Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 180

INTRODUCTION TO

DRINKING WATER QUALITY TESTING


_____________________________________
A CAWST TRAINING MANUAL
June 2009 Edition

12, 2916 5th Avenue


Calgary, Alberta
T2A 6K4, Canada
Phone + 1 (403) 243-3285
Fax + 1 (403) 243-6199
E-mail: cawst@cawst.org
Website: www.cawst.org
CAWST is a Canadian non-proft organization focused on the principle that clean
water changes lives. Safe water and basic sanitation are fundamentals necessary to
empower the worlds poorest people and break the cycle of poverty. CAWST
believes that the place to start is to teach people the skills they need to have safe
water in their homes. CAWST transfers knowledge and skills to organizations and
individuals in developing countries through education, training and consulting
services. This ever expanding network can motivate individual households to take
action to meet their own water and sanitation needs.
One of CAWSTs core strategies is to make knowledge about water common
knowledge. This is achieved, in part, by developing and freely distributing education
materials with the intent of increasing its availability to those who need it most.
This document is open content and licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution
Works 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/ or send a letter to Creative Commons,
171 Second Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, California 94105, USA.
You are free to:
Share to copy, distribute and transmit this document
Remix to adapt this document. We would appreciate receiving a copy of any
changes that youve made to improve this document.
Under the following conditions:
Attribution. You must give CAWST credit for this document (but not in any way
that suggests that CAWST endorses you or your use of this document).
CAWST and its directors, employees, contractors, and volunteers do not assume any
responsibility for and make no warranty with respect to the results that may be
obtained from the use of the information provided.

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Acronyms
Glossary
Section 1
1.1
1.2
1.3
1.4
1.5
1.6
1.7
1.8

Introduction of Drinking Water Quality Testing


Drinking Water Quality
Community and Household Water Treatment
Need for Drinking Water Quality Testing
Drinking Water Quality Guidelines and Standards
Drinking Water Quality Testing Options
Lessons Learned
Summary of Key Points
References

Section 2 Planning for Water Quality Testing


2.1 The Planning Process
2.2 Summary of Key Points
Section 3
3.1
3.2
3.3
3.4
3.5
3.6
3.7
3.8
3.9
3.10

Water Sampling and Quality Control


Determining the Sample Size
Choosing a Sample Method
How to Collect Water Samples
How to Transport Water Samples
How to Dilute a Water Sample
Ensuring Quality Control
Checklist for Field Work
Health and Safety
Summary of Key Points
References

Section 4
4.1
4.2
4.3
4.4
4.5
4.6

Testing for Physical Contaminants


WHO Guidelines for Physical Parameters
Potential Health Effects
Test Methods
Interpreting Test Results
Summary of Key Points
References

Section 5
5.1
5.2
5.3
5.4
5.5
5.6

Testing for Chemical Contaminants


WHO Guidelines for Chemical Contaminants
Common Chemicals Parameters for Testing
Test Methods
Interpreting Test Results
Summary of Key Points
References

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 6
6.1
6.2
6.3
6.4
6.5
6.6
6.7
6.8

Testing for Microbiological Contaminants


WHO Guidelines for Microbiological Contaminants
Potential Health Effects
Infectious Dose
Indicator Organisms
Test Methods
Interpreting Test Results
Summary of Key Points
References

Section 7
7.1
7.2
7.3
7.4

Interpreting Test Results


Steps for Data Interpretation
Interpreting Laboratory Reports
Summary of Key Points
References

Appendices
Appendix 1
Appendix 2
Appendix 3
Appendix 4
Appendix 5
Appendix 6
Appendix 7
Appendix 8
Appendix 9

Table of Contents

Equipment and Materials


Establishing a Laboratory
Determining the Sample Size
Quality Control
Data Recording Forms
Single Parameter Testing Procedures
Example Test Report
Culture Media for Microbiological Testing
WHO Guidelines and Health Effects of Chemical Contaminants

ii

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Acronyms and Glossary

Acronyms
BSF

biosand filter

CAWST

Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology

CFU

colony forming units

EC

electrical conductivity

ENPHO

Environment and Public Health Organization

FRC

free residual chlorine

HWTS

household water treatment and safe storage

MF

membrane filtration

MPN

most probable number

NGO

non-governmental organization

nd

no date

NOP

not operating properly

NPS

nutrient pad set

NTU

nephelometric turbidity units

P-A

presence-absence

PET

polyethylene perephthalate

PPB

parts per billion

PPM

parts per million

SODIS

solar disinfection

TCU

true colour units

TDI

tolerable daily intake

TDS

total dissolved solids

TNTC

too numerous to count

UN

United Nations

UNDP

United Nations Development Programs

UNICEF

United Nations Childrens Education Fund

US EPA

United States Environmental Protection Agency

WHO

World Health Organization

iii

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Acronyms and Glossary

Glossary
Adsorption
The adherence of gas molecules,
ions, microorganism or molecules
in solution to the surface of a solid.

Broth
A broth is a liquid mixture
containing nutrients for culturing
microorganisms.

Agar
A semi-solid gel mixture containing
nutrients for culturing
microorganisms.

Chemical
Involving or resulting from a
reaction between two or more
substances.

Algae
Aquatic species that encompass
several groups of relatively simple
living aquatic organisms that
capture light energy through
photosynthesis, using it to convert
inorganic substances into organic
matter.

Chlorine
A: Combined chlorine
Chlorine that is present in water
that is combined with other
chemicals.
B: Free chlorine
Chlorine present in water that is
not combined with other chemicals
and available to disinfect any
additional contaminants introduced
to the water.
C: Total chlorine
Combined chlorine + Free chlorine

Anaerobic
Pertaining to, taking place in, or
caused by the absence of oxygen.
Aquifer
A geologic formation, group of
formations, or part of a formation
that contains sufficient saturated
sand or gravel (permeable
material) to yield significant
quantities of water to springs and
wells.
Bacteria
Single-celled microscopic
organisms.
Basic
The opposite of acidic; water that
has pH greater than 7.
Biological
Any substance derived from
animal products or other biological
sources.
Biodegradation
Transformation of a substance into
new compounds through
biochemical reactions or actions of
microorganisms such as bacteria.
Blue-baby syndrome
A condition most common in young
infants and certain elderly people
that can be caused by ingestion of
high amounts of nitrate, which
results in the blood losing its ability
to effectively carry oxygen.

Coliform
A group of generally harmless
bacteria which may be faecal or
environmental in origin.
Colony (bacterial)
A cluster of bacteria growing on
the surface of or within a solid
media, usually cultured from a
single cell and appears as a
circular dot on the media.
Concentration
The ratio of the quantity of any
substance present in a sample of
given volume or a given weight
compared to the volume or weight
of the sample (e.g. mg/L, g/L,
ppm, ppb).
Constituent
A chemical or biological substance
in water, sediment, or living
organism of the area that can be
measured by an analytical method.
Contamination
Degradation of water quality
compared to original or natural
conditions due to human or natural
activity.

Culture Media
Combination of nutrients and
reagents used to culture
microorganisms (e.g. broths,
agars)
Criterion
A standard of judgment or a
rule for evaluating or testing
something.
Discharge
The volume of fluid passing a
point per unit of time,
commonly expressed in
3
m /second, L/minute.
Dissolved oxygen
Oxygen dissolved in water; one
of the most important indicators
of the condition of a water
body. Dissolved oxygen is
necessary for the life of fish and
most other aquatic organisms.
Dissolved solids
An expression for the amount
of solids which are contained in
a liquid in a dissolved form.
Effluent
Outflow from a particular
source, such as stream that
flows from a lake or liquid
waste that flows from a factory
or sewage treatment plant.
Fecal bacteria
Microscopic single-celled
organisms found in the wastes
or warm blooded animals. Their
presence indicates
contamination by the wastes of
warm-blooded animals and the
possible presence of
pathogenic organisms.
Filter paper
A porous paper used in the
membrane filtration technique
through which the sample is
filtered and which retains the
bacteria. Pore sizes for fecal
bacteria are between 0.45 and
0.7

iv

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Fresh water
Water that contains less than
1,000 mg/L of dissolved solids
such as salt.
Guideline
A recommended limit that should
not be exceeded; guidelines are
not intended to be standards of
practice, or to give rise to a legal
duty or obligation, but in certain
circumstances they could assist in
evaluation and improvement.
Ion
A positively or negatively charged
atom or group of atoms.
Leaching
The removal of materials in
solution from soil or rock; also
refers to movement of pesticides
or nutrients from land surface to
ground water.
Membrane Filtration
Water quality testing method used
to measure microbiological
contamination by enumeration of
indicator bacteria colony forming
units
Nonpoint source contaminant
A substance that pollutes or
degrades water that comes from
agricultural runoff, the atmosphere,
roadways, and other diffuse
sources.
Nephelometric Turbidity Unit
(NTU)
Unit of measure for the turbidity of
water. Essentially, a measure of
the cloudiness of water as
measured by a nephelometer.
Turbidity is based on the amount
of light that is reflected off particles
in the water.

Acronyms and Glossary

Organic
Containing carbon, but possibly
also containing hydrogen, oxygen,
chlorine, nitrogen, and other
elements.

Quantitative
Distinguishing substances
based on their quantity using
measurements. Ex: mass,
number, height.

Pathogen
Any living organism that causes
disease.

Runoff
The flow of precipitation or
snowmelt that appears in
streams or surface-water
bodies.

pH
A scale representation of the
amount of hydrogen ions in
solution reflecting acidity or
alkalinity.
Photometer
Digital device used to measure the
concentration of a parameter
(chemical, physical) in a sample.
Physical
A material thing which can be
touched and seen, rather than an
idea or spoken words
Point-source contaminant
Any substance that degrades
water quality and originates from
discrete locations such as
discharge pipes of latrines or
septic tanks, drainage ditches or
well concentrated livestock
operation.
Potable water
Water that is safe and has a good
taste for human consumption.
Pollution
Undesirable state of the natural
environment being contaminated
with harmful substances as a
consequence of human activities
or natural calamities.
Qualitative
Distinguishing substances based
on their quality using words. Ex:
color, smell, hardness.

Standard
A mandatory limit that must not
be exceeded; standards often
reflect a legal duty or obligation.
Suspended solids
Solids that are not in true
solution and that can be
removed by filtration. Such
suspended solids usually
contribute directly to turbidity.
Defined in waste management,
these are small particles of
solid pollutants that resist
separation by conventional
methods.
Turbidity
The amount of solid particles
that are suspended in water
and that cause light rays
shining through the water to
scatter. Thus, turbidity makes
the water cloudy or even
opaque in extreme cases.
Turbidity is measured in
nephelometric turbidity units
(NTU).
Water quality
A term used to describe the
chemical, physical, and
biological characteristics of
water, usually in respect to its
suitability for a particular
purpose.

References
http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/dictionary.html
http://water.usgs.gov/glossaries.html

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 1 Introduction

1 Introduction to Drinking Water Quality Testing


Having safe drinking water and basic sanitation is a human need and right for every man,
woman and child. People need clean water and sanitation to maintain their health and
dignity. Having better water and sanitation is essential in breaking the cycle of poverty
since it improves peoples health, strength to work, and ability go to school.
Yet 884 million people around the world live without improved drinking water and 2.5
billion people still lack access to improved sanitation, including 1.2 billion who do not have
a simple latrine at all (WHO/UNICEF, 2008). Many of these people are among those
hardest to reach: families living in remote rural areas and urban slums, families displaced
by war and famine, and families living in the poverty-disease trap, for whom improved
sanitation and drinking water could offer a way out.
.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 88% of diarrheal disease is caused
by unsafe water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene. As a result, more than 4,500
children die every day from diarrhea and other diseases. For every child that dies,
countless others, including older children and adults, suffer from poor health and missed
opportunities for work and education.

The global water crisis claims more lives through disease than any war claims through
guns (UNDP, 2006).

In 2000, the United Nations created the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to
improve the quality of life for people all over the world. The following are the eight MDGs
that are to be achieved by the year 2015:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.

Eliminate extreme poverty and hunger.


Achieve universal primary education.
Promote gender equality and empower women.
Reduce child mortality.
Improve maternal health.
Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.
Ensure environmental sustainability.
(c) Reduce the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water
and basic sanitation by half.
8. Develop a global partnership for development.
The WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation (JMP) is
the official United Nations organization responsible for monitoring progress towards the
MDG targets for improved drinking water and sanitation.

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 1 Introduction

What Does Improved Drinking Water and Sanitation Mean?

Improved drinking water source is defined as a drinking water source or delivery


point that, by nature of its construction and design, is likely to protect the water source
from outside contamination, in particular from fecal matter.

Safe drinking water is water with microbiological, chemical and physical


characteristics that meet WHO guidelines or national standards on drinking water
quality.

Improved sanitation facility is defined as one that hygienically separates human


excreta from human contact. However, sanitation facilities are not considered
improved when shared with other households, or open for public use.

What are Improved Technologies for Drinking Water and Sanitation?


Improved Technologies

Drinking Water

Sanitation

Piped water
Public tap/standpipe
Tubewell/borehole
Protected dug well
Protected spring
Rainwater collection
1
Bottled water

Flush or pour-flush to a
piped sewer system,
septic tank or pit latrine
VIP latrine
Pit latrine with slab
Composting toilet

Unimproved Technologies

Drinking Water

Sanitation

Unprotected dug well


Unprotected spring
Vendor-provided water
Tanker truck water
Surface water (e.g. river,
stream, dam, lake,
pond, canal)

Public or shared latrine


Open pit or pit latrine
without a slab
Hanging toilet or latrine
Bucket latrine
No facilities at all

The JMP considers bottled water a source of improved drinking water only when another improved source is
also used for cooking and personal hygiene.
2
Shared or public facilities are not considered to be improved.
(WHO/UNICEF, 2008)

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 1 Introduction

1.1 Drinking Water Quality


We find our drinking water from different places depending on where we live in the world.
Three sources that are used to collect drinking water are:
1. Ground water Water that fills the spaces between rocks and soil making an aquifer.
Ground water depth and quality varies from place to place. About half of the worlds
drinking water comes from the ground.
2. Surface water Water that is taken directly from a stream, river, lake, pond, spring or
similar source. Surface water quality is generally unsafe to drink without treatment.
3. Rainwater Water that is collected and stored using a roof top, ground surface or
rock catchment. The quality of rain water collected from a roof surface is usually
better than a ground surface or rock catchment.
Water is in continuous movement on, above and below the surface of the earth. As water
is recycled through the earth, it picks up many things along its path. Water quality will vary
from place to place, with the seasons, and with various kinds of rock and soil which it
moves through.
For the most part, it is natural processes that affect water quality. For instance, water
moving through underground rocks and soils may pick up natural contaminants, even with
no human activity or pollution in the area. In addition to nature's influence, water is also
polluted by human activities, such as open defecation, dumping garbage, poor agricultural
practices, and chemical spills at industrial sites.
Even though water may be clear, it does not necessarily mean that it is safe for us to
drink. It is important for us to judge the safety of water by taking the following three
qualities into consideration:
1. Microbiological bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and worms
2. Chemical minerals, metals and chemicals
3. Physical temperature, colour, smell, taste and turbidity
Safe drinking water should have the following microbiological, chemical and physical
qualities:

Free of pathogens
Low in concentrations of toxic chemicals
Clear
Tasteless and colourless (for aesthetic purposes)

When considering drinking water quality, in most cases microbiological contamination is


the main concern since it is responsible for the majority of illnesses and deaths related to
drinking unsafe water.

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 1 Introduction

1.2 Community and Household Water Treatment


Water can be treated at a central location, in large volumes, and then supplied to
households through a network of pipes. This is often called centralized or community
water treatment. Smaller volumes of water can also be treated at the point of use (POU),
such as in a home. This is commonly called household water treatment and safe storage
(HWTS) since the family members gather the water, and then treat and store it in their
home.
Most people around the world wish to have safe water piped directly to their homes
through a community water treatment system. Unfortunately, the money and resources
needed to construct, operate and maintain a community system are not always available
in most developing countries.
The main advantage of HWTS is that it can be used immediately in the homes of poor
families to improve their drinking water quality. It is proven to be an effective way to
prevent diseases from unsafe water. HWTS lets people take responsibility of their own
water security by treating and safely storing water themselves.
HWTS is also less expensive, more appropriate for treating smaller volumes of water, and
provides an entry or starting point for hygiene and sanitation education. There are a wide
range of simple HWTS technologies that provide options based on what is most suitable
and affordable for the individual household.
Some limitations of HWTS are that it requires families to be knowledgeable about its
operation and maintenance, and they need to be motivated to use the technology
correctly. As well, most HWTS processes are designed to remove pathogens rather than
chemicals.
With both centralized and household water treatment, using the multi-barrier approach is the
best way to reduce the risk of drinking unsafe water. Each step in the process, from source
protection, to water treatment and safe storage, provides an incremental health risk
reduction. Both community and household water treatment systems follow the same water
treatment process. The only difference is the scale of the systems that are used by
communities and households.
Household Water Treatment

Source
Protection

Sedimentation

Filtration

Disinfection

Safe Storage

Important Note:
The majority of water quality testing literature and research is related to large-scale,
community treatment systems. This information has been adapted to focus on household
water treatment in this manual.

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 1 Introduction

1.3 Need for Drinking Water Quality Testing


The following are common reasons to do water quality testing at the household level:

ensure safe drinking water


identify problems
adopt precautionary measures
raise awareness
determine the effectiveness of the HWTS process
select an appropriate water source
influence government to supply safe water

Household water treatment and safe storage is becoming a popular option for obtaining
safe water. Different processes and technologies such as the biosand filter, ceramic filter,
solar disinfection (SODIS) and chlorination are being introduced from different
governmental and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Water quality tests are very
useful in understanding the difference between source water, treated water and stored
water quality.

1.4 Drinking Water Quality Guidelines and Standards

What is the Difference between Guidelines and Standards?


Standard a mandatory limit that must not be exceeded; standards often indicate a legal
duty or obligation.
Guideline a recommended limit that should not be exceeded; guidelines are not
intended to be standards of practice, or indicate a legal duty or obligation, but in certain
circumstances they could assist in evaluation and improvement.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is part of the United Nations (UN) and it focuses
on international public health. The WHO writes the Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality
(2006) to help make sure that people are drinking safe water around the world.
The WHO Guidelines explain that safe drinking water will not make people sick at any
time throughout their life, including when they are young, old or sick. Safe drinking water
should be good to use for all of our personal needs, including drinking, cooking, and
washing.
The WHO Guidelines cover microbiological, chemical and physical qualities. However, it
is stressed that microbiological quality is the most important since this is biggest cause of
illness and death around the world.

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 1 Introduction

Although there are several contaminants in water that may be harmful to humans, the first
priority is to ensure that drinking water is free of pathogens that cause disease.
(WHO, 2006)

The implementation of the WHO Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality varies among
countries. There is no single approach that is used worldwide. The Guidelines are
recommendations to work towards and they are not mandatory limits.
Countries can take the WHO Guidelines into consideration along with the local
environmental, social, economic and cultural conditions. This may lead to countries
developing their own national standards that are quite different the WHO Guidelines.
There is an overwhelming need to increase the availability of safe drinking water in ways
that are in line with the WHO Guidelines. To meet this worldwide demand, a variety of
household water treatment and safe storage technologies are being promoted as
effective, appropriate, acceptable and affordable practices to improve drinking water
quality.
Testing can be done to determine if pathogens are present in the drinking water.
However, occasional tests conducted on a water supply may provide a false sense of
security or inconclusive results as water quality can vary widely and rapidly. Regular
testing can also be time consuming and expensive. It should be undertaken only when
needed to influence practical decisions with respect to supply or treatment.
The general health, well-being or energy levels of the local population can also provide
some insight into the quality of the drinking water. However, it is important to remember
that diarrhoeal diseases can also result from poor food and personal hygiene.

1.5 Drinking Water Quality Testing Options


Establishing water quality testing as part of your project depends on your objectives and
availability of resources. The following are some guiding questions for you to ask when
starting out to help select appropriate water quality test methods:

Why do you need to conduct water quality testing?


o Baseline information
o Planning and policy development
o Management and operational information
o Other purposes
What water quality information is required?

Historically, conventional laboratories were mainly used to carry out water quality testing.
Now there is a wide variety of good testing kits and products available in the commercial
market that allows you to conduct water quality testing on your own without relying on a
laboratory. The following sections present the different methods that are available:

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 1 Introduction

Observation
Doing it yourself in the field
Using a mobile laboratory
Sending your samples to a laboratory for analysis.

1.5.1 Observation
Most HWTS technologies and processes disseminated by governmental and NGOs have
already been tested and validated through laboratory experiments. Therefore, it can be
assumed that implementation of the technology and process will result in improved water
quality. The basic operating and maintenance requirements recommended by the project
implementer should be observed and monitored to ensure safe drinking water.
Other simple observations can be undertaken to identify potential water quality issues and
minimize the risk of contamination. Poor water quality may be indicated by observing the
water source, the immediate household surroundings, containers used to carry water from
the source, storage containers, and personal hygiene and sanitation practices.
Water quality can also be assessed by making qualitative observations of its physical
characteristics such as the turbidity, colour, odour and taste. The following are examples
where water contamination is indicated through visual observation, taste or smell. If
contamination is suspected through observation, then testing is the next step to confirm
the water quality.
Qualitative Observations
Water Observations

Possible Contaminants

Foamy

Detergents

Black in colour

Manganese, bacteria growth

Brown, yellow or reddish in colour

Iron

Dark brown or yellow in colour

Tannins and pigment from leaves and back

White deposits or scale

Hardness, dissolved metals

Earthy, fishy, muddy, peaty odour

Organic matter, algae, bacteria

Rotten egg odour

Hydrogen sulphide

Chlorine odour

Chlorine residual from water treatment process

Bitter or metallic taste

pH, zinc, copper


(Adapted from Singh et al., 2003)

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 1 Introduction

1.5.2 Portable Testing Kits


Analyses for many physical, chemical and microbiological contaminants can be carried
out in the field or in a temporary laboratory using specifically designed products that are
portable and relatively easy to use. A significant advantage of field analysis is that tests
are carried out on fresh samples whose characteristics have not been contaminated or
otherwise changed as a result of being stored and transported over long distances.
Example Portable Water Quality Testing Kits

Wagtech Potatest

Delagua Kit

Summary of Field Testing Advantages and Limitations


Advantages

Easy to use and handle


Portable and self-contained
Rapid results
Do not require high level of training or
knowledge for use
End users are able to participate in the
testing process
Less expensive than laboratory testing

Limitations

Reduced precision and accuracy


Reduced level of quality assurance
More difficult to process a large number of
samples (over 80 per week) without
supplementary equipment.

In rural and remote communities, it is more convenient to carry out water testing on site.
However, in practice, it is difficult to transport samples in a way that does not affect their
bacteriological quality. Setting up a small laboratory to provide a clean and controlled
environment is highly recommended.
Manufacturers of portable kits provide a users manual with simple step-by-step
instructions on how to conduct the water quality tests. This makes it easy for people to
use and does not require a high level of training.

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 1 Introduction

Portable water testing kits can also be a useful tool to raise awareness about water
quality. Community Health Promoters or field staff can use water quality testing to help
bring about positive changes in the hygiene and sanitation behaviour of many individuals.
Many tests show visual results which help people to improve their understanding of their
water quality.
Portable water quality test kits should have the following characteristics:

Easy to use with simple instructions


Small and easy to transport
No restrictions on air transport
Fast results
Limited requirement for distilled or deionized water
Dilution not necessary
Does not require calibration
Robust (limited effects from UV light; shock; humidity or temperature)
Can test several parameters
Easy to repair or replace
Limited consumables or consumables are easy to obtain
Reasonable cost of equipment and consumables

Appendix 1: Equipment and Products provides more information on the above portable
tests kits as well as other equipment and materials generally used by different
government and NGOs.
1.5.3 Mobile Laboratory Testing
It is possible to set up a laboratory in a suitable motor vehicle, e.g. truck or van. In effect,
this is a variant of field testing, but may provide better facilities than test kits. In practice, it
is only feasible where projects are scattered in different locations and they have common
water quality monitoring. Government agencies and research centres responsible for
monitoring and water quality testing sometimes use mobile laboratories for periodic water
quality testing. The vehicle is usually the most costly piece of equipment.

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 1 Introduction

1.5.4 Laboratory Testing


Water quality testing can also be carried out in a laboratory. This method requires
facilities, trained technician, equipment and other supporting materials. Laboratory testing
can be useful if you are only taking a small number of samples and your project is located
close to an urban area where a laboratory is present.
Summary of Laboratory Testing Advantages and Limitations
Advantages

Controlled environment
High level of precision and accuracy
High level of quality assurance
More consistent results
More samples can be processed in a
shorter time
Accepted by international standards

Limitations

Relatively expensive
Requires trained and skilled technicians
Usually located in urban areas, may require
samples to be transported over long
distances
Some laboratories may have very limited
options of test methods

Governments and university researchers often use laboratories for water quality testing.
This is due to the fact that laboratories provide more accurate and precise results, which
are often required for quality control and monitoring. Laboratory testing is preferred when
carrying out technology verification and preparing water quality guidelines.
UNICEF also recommends that some complex chemicals such as antimony, barium,
cadmium, mercury, molybdenum, selenium and uranium should be tested at a laboratory
in order to achieve a reliable result.
The cost of a laboratory sample tests varies depending on the following parameters:

Geographical location of the laboratory


Types of chemical or biological contaminants
Quantity of sample tests
Accuracy and precision level required

The costs are usually reduced as the numbers of tests increase. The following graph
shows a reduction costs when the number of tests is increased. This was based on
setting up a semi-permanent laboratory using reusable glassware (Baker, 2006).

10

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 1 Introduction

Comparison of Cost Versus Number of Tests


$20.00
$18.00
$16.00
$14.00
$12.00
$10.00
$8.00
$6.00
$4.00
$2.00
$0.00
500 tests

1000 tests

2000 tests

3000 tests

4000 tests

5000 tests

Total Number of Tests Performed

The feasibility to establish a project laboratory depends upon the availability of financial
resources, physical facilities, skilled technicians and basic lab instrumentation. Appendix
2 describes on the basic requirement to establish a project lab.
The relatively high cost of laboratory testing makes it difficult, impractical or impossible to
use in many parts of the world. The resources and infrastructure may also not be
available to allow for routine testing of drinking water using standardized methods.
The lack of accessibility for drinking water quality testing highlighted the great need for
rapid, simple, inexpensive test methods. This need is especially great for small
community and household water supplies that lack access to and can not afford
conventional laboratory testing. On-site testing using portable equipment and the
development of alternative and simplified test methods have contributed to overcoming
these constraints (WHO, 2002).

11

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 1 Introduction

1.5.5 Selecting Drinking Water Quality Test Methods


Selecting a test method depends on the purpose of the test and how the results are going
to be used. There is no single test to determine the safety of drinking water.
Deciding on an appropriate method is based on the following considerations:

Objectives of your testing program.


The range of concentrations of the contaminants that need to be determined
o Detection limits depend on the type of method; both low and high
concentrations can be tested with more accuracy in a laboratory.
The accuracy and precision required
o The greater accuracy and precision required, the greater the analytical
complexity and cost
The maximum time period between sampling and analysis
Technical skills required
Cost of equipment and materials for each test

In the case where different methods can achieve the above requirements, the ultimate
choice may be dictated by familiarity with the method and/or the availability of necessary
equipment.

1.6 Lessons Learned


Smaller projects that are just getting off the ground do not usually do water quality testing.
Many project implementers have shown initial interest in water quality testing; however
they end up finding that it can be an onerous and expensive task. The cost (about US$2-4
per test) is not affordable for many project implementers who want to conduct water
quality testing on a regular basis.
Some larger projects have found portable water testing to be useful in determining the
effectiveness of the technology and for monitoring and evaluating its implementation.
These project implementers may have their own laboratory set up and have received
training on water quality testing.
Sometimes project implementers do random testing that is not part of a regular and
structured monitoring program. Doing occasional or random tests may provide a false
sense of security or inconclusive results as water quality can vary widely and rapidly.
Laboratory testing is preferred when carrying out technology verification and preparing
water quality guidelines. UNICEF recommends that some complex chemicals such as
antimony, barium, cadmium, mercury, molybdenum, selenium and uranium should be
tested by a laboratory to achieve a reliable result. However, testing specifically for these
chemicals is not usually a concern for the majority of HWTS projects.

12

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 1 Introduction

Water quality testing has been used by some projects as an effective tool to raise
awareness about the importance of safe water in rural communities. It can be an effective
tool for Community Health Promoters or field staff to help bring about positive changes in
peoples hygiene and sanitation behaviours. Users have a chance to participate in the
testing process and they can visually see the results. However the results should be
interpreted and presented properly to the users to avoid misunderstandings and possible
negative behaviour change. For example, showing treated water as being positive for
contamination (despite considerable improvement compared to the original source) may
discourage the household from using their water.

1.7 Summary of Key Points

Water quality can be defined by three broad categories: physical, chemical and
biological attributes.

The WHO Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality defines safe water as a not
representing any significant risk to health over the lifetime of consumption.

Adoption of the WHO Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality varies among countries
and regions. There is no single approach that is used worldwide.

Although there are several contaminants in water that may be harmful to humans, the
first priority is to ensure that drinking water is free of microorganisms that cause
disease (pathogens)

Common reasons to conduct water quality testing at the household level are to:
o ensure safe drinking water
o identify problems
o adopt precautionary measures
o raise awareness
o determine the effectiveness of HWT technologies
o select an appropriate water source
o influence government to supply safe water

There are four broad options for water quality testing: observation, testing using
portable (field) kits, mobile laboratory testing and specialized laboratory testing.

There is no single test to determine the safety of drinking water.

13

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 1 Introduction

1.8 References
Baker D. (2006). Water Lab Equipment, Unpublished document. Centre for Affordable
Water and Sanitation Technology, Calgary, Canada.
Singh, G. and Singh J. (2003). Water Supply and Sanitation Engineering, Standards
Publisher Distributors, India.
UNICEF (2003). Water Quality Assessment and Monitoring, Technical Bulletin No.6.
Available at: www.supply.unicef.dk/catalogue/bulletin6.htm
World Health Organization (2001). Water Quality: Guidelines, Standards and Health.
Edited by Lorna Fewtrell and Jamie Bartram. IWA Publishing, London, UK. Available at:
www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/dwq/whoiwa/en/index.html
World Health Organization (2006). Guidelines for Drinking-Water Quality: Incorporating
First Addendum. Vol. 1, Recommendations, Third Edition. WHO, Geneva, Switzerland.
Available at: www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/dwq/gdwq3rev/en/index.html
World Health Organization (2008). Guidelines for Drinking-Water Quality: Second
Addendum. Vol. 1, Recommendations, Third Edition. WHO, Geneva, Switzerland.
Available at: www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/dwq/secondaddendum20081119.pdf
World Health Organization and United Nations Childrens Fund (2004) Meeting the MDG
Drinking Water and Sanitation Target: A Mid-Term Assessment of Progress. UNICEF,
New York, USA and WHO, Geneva, Switzerland. Available at
www.unicef.org/wes/files/who_unicef_watsan_midterm_rev.pdf
World Health Organization and United Nations Childrens Fund (2005). WHO/UNICEF
Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation. Water for Life: Making it
Happen. UNICEF, New York, USA and WHO, Geneva, Switzerland. Available at:
www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/monitoring/jmp2005/en/index.html
World Health Organization and United Nations Childrens Fund (2008). Progress on Drinking
Water and Sanitation: Special Focus on Sanitation. UNICEF, New York, USA and WHO,
Geneva, Switzerland. Available at: www.wssinfo.org/en/40_MDG2008.html

14

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 1 Introduction

Assignment: Selecting Water Quality Test Methods


1. Why do you want to conduct water quality testing for your project?

2. Which testing options do you think will be the most appropriate for your project? Why?

15

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 1 Introduction

Assignment: Answers
1. The following are common reasons to do water quality testing at the household level:

ensure safe drinking water


identify problems
adopt precautionary measures
raise awareness
determine the effectiveness of the HWTS process
select an appropriate water source
influence government to supply safe water

2. Project specific answers. If you have any questions ask your facilitator.

16

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 2 Planning

2 Planning for Water Quality Testing


It is essential to have a detailed plan for water quality testing. Planning in advance and
thinking through the process will save time, lower costs, satisfy stakeholders, and
prevent surprises during the project. Moreover, it gives a basis for the financial and
human resources that will be needed to carry out your testing. It is important to follow
the plan once it has been developed, although some changes will inevitably be required
as events unfold.
The planning process presented in this section follows well-established practices. This
process may require more time than expected to develop objectives, put together your
team, identify the testing parameters, and prepare a budget.

2.1 The Planning Process


Planning for a water quality testing should be done by the people who will be involved in
the project. The following steps can be undertaken as a facilitated group activity before
the testing begins to ensure that the planning is thorough and complete. Time invested
in planning is essential for conducting efficient and useful water quality tests.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.

Review the need for testing


Develop your objectives
Identify test parameters
Identify test methods
Determine the key milestones
Identify your activities
Set out responsibilities
Develop time and cost estimates

2.1.1 Review the Need for Testing


As discussed in Section 1, you should review the need for water quality testing within
the context of your project and its objectives. People often start out by implementing a
pilot project in a community to demonstrate the performance and acceptability of HWTS.
There are different criteria to measure performance, including:

Quantity of treated water


Users satisfaction
Robustness
Ease of maintenance and operation
Affordability
Availability
Users perception on taste, smell and color

In some situations, you may also want to determine the effectiveness of HWTS in terms
of its physical, chemical and microbiological contaminant removal. There are other
situations that may require some assessment of HWTS: end user request, donor
request, government verification, or research purposes. This is where water quality
testing can be a useful tool.
17

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 2 Planning

Water quality testing in developing countries can be a quite expensive and onerous
undertaking if it is done properly. Careful judgement about the need for water quality
testing is essential. As discussed in Section 1, there are alternative ways to assess the
performance of HWTS such as household surveys and observations. However, if you
are going to assess the technical effectiveness of technology, you may need to carry out
water quality testing. The table below compares the cost, time and technical resources
required for a household survey and water quality tests.
Comparison of Different Methods for Assessing Performance of
HWTS Technologies
Parameter

Household Survey Based on


Users Perception

Water Quality Testing

Cost

$$

$$$

Time







Technical Resources

2.1.2 Develop Objectives


The objectives of the water quality testing program should fulfill the needs of the project
implementer, stakeholders and what they require from the results. If a stakeholders
needs require resources beyond what is available, they should be contacted
immediately and the objectives negotiated, so that the scope of the testing matches the
resources available.
The following are some examples of objectives for water quality testing:

Identify an appropriate water source


Increase user awareness on water quality issues
Troubleshooting as part of on-going monitoring program
Assess the effectiveness of a HWT technology in reducing turbidity and bacteria
Assess the concentration of arsenic and fluoride in the source and treated water
Justify further funding and scaling up of your project

18

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 2 Planning

2.1.3 Identify Test Parameters


Physical, chemical and microbiological contaminants can all be measured through water
quality testing. The type of parameters to be analyzed depends on your objectives and
scope.

Physical

Chemical

Colour
Odour
Temperature
Turbidity

Organic
Inorganic
pH

Microbiological

Bacteria
Virus
Protozoa
Helminth

Important Note:
Microbiological contamination of drinking water is the greatest concern to human health
in most developing countries. Chemical contaminants are usually considered a lower
priority since adverse health effects are generally associated with long-term exposure,
whereas the effects from microbiological contaminants are usually immediate. Turbidity
and bacteria are generally considered the basic parameters for water quality testing.

It is difficult and expensive to test for all chemicals that may be found in drinking water.
However, chemical testing can be done if there are specific contamination risks in the
project area. For example, if arsenic or fluoride is a local issue, you may want to test for
those specific chemicals.
Selecting water quality testing parameters may take the following information into
consideration:
Health Care Data
Community health centres or hospitals usually collect some level of information about
the numbers of patients and types of illnesses that are treated. This information can
indicates how illnesses are spreading throughout the area. For example, if a large
number of patients suffering from diarrhea are treated, this would show that poor quality
drinking water and hygiene may be the major cause for illness. Community leaders,
traditional healers and religious leaders are also usually good sources of information
about health issues that are occurring within a community.

19

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 2 Planning

End Users Request


End users may show interest in the effectiveness and reliability of a HWT technology.
Sometimes they want to be able to see the pathogens to better understand the process.
In this situation, it can be beneficial to do microbiological testing to demonstrate the
presence of pathogens in the water.
Natural Disasters
Natural disasters such as flooding, earthquakes and landslides often cause
contamination of water sources. Deterioration of the water source can affect the
effectiveness of different HWT technologies. Depending on the type and intensity of the
natural disaster, it may be a good idea to conduct water quality testing.
Geographic Location
Due to natural geological formations, some regions may be prone to arsenic, fluoride or
other chemical contamination. In these areas, it may be a good idea to conduct water
quality testing. Also, you may want to do testing near industrial or agricultural operations
where there may be by-products that may cause water contamination.
Secondary Information
Government agencies, research centres or international organizations may carry out a
national or regional survey and report on the surface and ground water quality. This type
of information provides a general idea of the local situation, which helps to determine
the type of tests and parameters required for the area.
2.1.4 Identify Test Methods
As mentioned in Section 1, there are many testing methods, tools and kits available to
do microbiological, physical and chemical testing.
Once you have selected which parameters you will be testing for, you will need to select
which methods are more suitable to achieve your objectives.
Sections 4, 5 and 6 provide a more in-depth understanding on different test methods for
physical, chemical and microbiological parameters.
2.1.5 Determine Key Milestones
The concept of milestones in the planning process was originally derived from
engineering highways. A milestone or kilometre sign was placed along a road at regular
intervals. This gave the traveler a better idea of the path being followed and the
remaining distance to the desired destination.
Similarly, a milestone within the planning process indicates what achievements are
needed to be reached in order to meet the final goal. In planning your milestones, it is
best to begin with the end in mind. Working back in time, determine the key milestones
that have to be accomplished prior to completing the final report.
The example below shows the key milestones on top and the major activities below
starting from today and extending to the completion of the water quality testing program.

20

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Today

Arrive in
community

Prepare

Section 2 Planning

Start
Testing

Setup

Complete
Testing

Collect
Data

Start
Report

Analyze
Data

Submit
Report

Prepare
Report

This method of displaying the milestones is a useful tool to help visualize the entire plan
and to understand the steps necessary to complete the work. By breaking down your
testing program into milestones, you can then focus on the specific activities required to
complete each portion of the program. Generating the specific list of activities to achieve
each milestone is the next step of the planning process.
2.1.6 Identify Activities
Activities are the specific tasks that need to be undertaken to achieve a milestone. Many
activities will occur simultaneously and it is not always necessary to finish one activity
before starting the next one. For example, preparation activities include all the things
that should be done before your arrival in a community. Examples of some of these
activities may be as follows:
1. Acquire water testing equipment and supplies:
Identify manufacturers of equipment and supplies
Purchase all equipment and supplies
Develop an inventory checklist
Find a space where analysis of the samples will be conducted
Prepare testing protocols
Provide training to staff on how to use the equipment
Practice using the equipment to conduct water quality tests
2. Develop survey tools
Determine sample sizes
Identify households where samples will be collected
Develop household visit checklist
3. Data management plan
Determine what data will be recorded
Determine how data will be recorded
Create data collection forms

21

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 2 Planning

2.1.7 Assign Responsibilities


Once the list of activities has been developed, the next step is to assign responsibility
for each activity. In the case of larger projects, there may be several people involved
and each needs to know their role and how they will work together. A RACI chart is a
project management tool that helps clarify the different roles in a project. RACI stands
for responsibility, action, consult, and inform respectively.
R = Responsibility
The R role is held by just one person. This is the individual who is ultimately
responsible for that activity being completed on time and on budget. Even if several
other people will be working on that activity, only one person is labeled with an R.
A = Action
All the people who will need to take some action to complete that activity is assigned an
A in the RACI chart. Anyone and everyone who will take some action should be labeled
with an A for that activity.
C = Consult
This refers to those people who must be consulted and a reply is required from those
people. For example, if approval of funds is required then the person who will give the
approval should be labeled with a C.
I = Inform
With many activities there are a number of people that need to be informed, although
they do not need to give a reply. This may be the recipients of progress reports, draft
results, etc. These people would be assigned an I in the RACI chart.
Note that the same person can be included in more than one way (i.e. A and I). It is
important that each person understands and agrees to the responsibilities assigned to
them and be prepared to report progress back to the team as the activities move
forward.
Example RACI Chart
Activities
1. Water test kit and supplies:
Identify manufacturers of equipment and supplies
Purchase all equipment and supplies
Develop inventory checklist
Prepare testing protocol
Provide training to staff on how to use the
equipment
Practice conducting water quality tests

R
Mr. X
Mr. X
Mr. X
Ms. Y
Ms. Y
Ms. Y

I
Ms. Y
Ms. Y
Ms. Y

Mr. X
Mr. X
Ms. W
Mr. X
Ms. W

22

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 2 Planning

2.1.8 Develop Time and Cost Estimates


The final step is to estimate the time and cost necessary to complete each activity. By
using the list of activities as a project breakdown it is much easier to estimate the time
required and forecast the cost for each activity.
Normally, the cost and time is estimated, or at least agreed to, by the person who is
ultimately responsible for the activity. It is important to recognize that the time required
for each activity may not be additive since many activities may be undertaken at the
same time. For this reason, sometimes activities are assigned deadlines for
completion rather than assigning the time requirement needed to complete each
activity.
Example Time Estimate
Activities

Week
1

1. Preparation
2. Set up
3. Collect data
4. Analyze data
5. Prepare final report

Cost estimates should be supported whenever possible by actual quotes (e.g. for testing
equipment and supplies). A budget should be prepared to include all capital costs (eg.
equipment, office supplies) and on-going expenses including transportation and human
resources.
Example Budget for Testing 30 Biosand Filters
Cost
(US$)

Activities
1. Office Supplies
Paper

15.00

Photocopies

30.00

Printing

50.00

Maps

10.00

2. Field Work
Local transportation to project (6 days at $20/day)

120.00

Test equipment and supplies

120.00

Refreshment for community meetings

120.00

3. Human Resources
Staff daily allowances (1 team leader, 3 members,1 driver)

180.00

Total Costs

645.00

Contingencies 10%

64.50

Grand total

709.50

23

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 2 Planning

2.2 Summary of Key Points

A detailed plan for water quality testing is essential.

Planning in advance and thinking through the process will save time, lower costs,
satisfy stakeholders, and prevent surprises during the project. Moreover, it gives an
idea of the financial and human resources that will be needed to carry out your
testing.

The main steps in the planning process are as follows:


1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.

Review the need for testing


Develop your objectives
Identify test parameters
Identify test methods
Determine the key milestones
Identify your activities
Set out responsibilities
Develop time and cost estimates

24

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 2 Planning

Assignment: Prepare a Water Quality Testing Plan


1. Explain why you need to conduct water quality testing for your project. What are
your specific objectives?

2. Identify the key milestones required to meet your objectives.

3. Identify the specific activities that need to be undertaken to accomplish each


milestone.

Answers:
Question 1 (See Section 2.1.2)
Question 2 (See Section 2.1.5)
Question 3 (See Section 2.1.6)

25

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 3 Water Sampling and Quality Control

3 Water Sampling and Quality Control


The following section discusses how many water samples you need to take depending
on your needs; how to collect and transport water samples from different sources;
different measures that you can take to ensure quality control; and the importance of
health and safety.

3.1 Determining the Sample Size


The following guidelines can help you to determine the sample size required for large
and small projects.
Small Projects (less than 100 households)
The sample size depends on the purpose of the water quality testing.

For a trend analysis, 10-20% of households can be used as the sample size. If
resources are available, it would be good to test all the households in a small project.
For a statistical analysis, a minimum of 30 units is needed for sampling. For example,

30 children at a school, 30 filters in the village, or 30 households in the community.

Large Projects (greater than 100 households)


Geographical location and socioeconomic status should be considered during the
sample selection. Before determining the sample size, the area should be divided into
different geographical areas, such as high land, low land, or coastal areas, to get an
accurate representation. Households should also be classified based on socioeconomic
status such as high, medium, and low income. In general, 5-10% of the total
households can be taken as a sample from each geographical area and each
socioeconomic group.
Appendix 3 explains sample size calculations by using a formula derived from the
University of Florida. It shows that a small sample population requires the selection of a
relatively large number of samples. The table in the appendix shows the sample size
based on population and precision level.
Based on CAWSTs experience, for large project, it is recommended that a 15-20%
precision level be used for the sample size. Moreover, sample size depends on the
variation or diversity of geographical location, socioeconomic status, and homogeneity
in the community in terms of religion and beliefs.
Sample size is primarily determined by money and politics, not statistics.
~ Dr. Lawrence Grummer-Strawn, CDC (nd)

26

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 3 Water Sampling and Quality Control

3.2 Choosing a Sampling Method


Basically there are two types of sampling methods: probability and non-probability.

Probability sampling: every unit of the population has an equal chance (probability)
of being selected in the sample.
Non-probability sampling: does not use random selection.

3.2.1 Probability Sampling methods


Simple Random Sampling
In this method, every unit of the population has an equal chance of being selected in
the sample. A sample unit can be drawn either by using a random numbers table or by
drawing a unit from the list of the total population. In this context, total population
means the group of people, items or units under the study or research.

We can use different methods to randomly select the participants, such as drawing
names or numbers from a hat, or using a computerized random number generator
(www.random.org).

For example, your sample size is 50 from a total population of 200 households. Write
the name of each household in a separate piece of paper and put it into a container.
Randomly select 50 names from the hat.

Systematic Sampling
In this method, a sample unit can be taken at particular intervals. The interval can be
calculated by dividing the total number of units in the population by the number of units
to be selected (sample size).

The following is an example of systematic sampling:

Your sample size is 100 households from a total population of 1000 households
1000 divided by 100 = 10 households
from a list of the 1000 households, begin at a random household on the list, and
select every 10th household to be sampled

Cluster Sampling
In this method, the population is divided into clusters or groups, and some of these are
then chosen by simple random sampling or by an alternative method. It is a good
method to use for large projects. Samples taken from households of the same street or
households with the same tribe are an example of cluster sampling. The population is
divided into clusters,

27

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 3 Water Sampling and Quality Control

For example, an organization wishes to find out the effectiveness of a technology in the
project area. It would be too costly and take too long to survey every household in the
project. Instead, 50 households are randomly selected from all households using a
local pond as their water source. These households using a pond water source are
considered as a cluster sampling.

Stratified Random Sampling


Stratified sampling methods are generally used when the population is heterogeneous.
To choose a stratified random sample, divide the population into groups of individuals
that are similar in some way that is important to the response.

For example, if you were interested in assessing the rate of technology adoption in
terms of social status, select samples through stratified random sampling. In this
context, the total population can be stratified by their economic status such as low
income, medium income and high income.

3.2.2 Non-probability Sampling Methods


Non-probability sampling does not use random selection. In this method, generalization
of the findings is not possible because the sample is not representative of population.
Convenience Sampling
Convenience sampling does not produce a representative sample of the population
because people or items are only selected for a sample if they can be accessed easily
and conveniently.

For example, this may include the first ten people meeting in a temple or the first row of
people in a meeting.

Purposive Sampling
A purposive sample is one in which an evaluator tries to create a representative sample
without actually sampling at random. One of the most common uses of purposive
sampling is in selecting a group of geographical areas to represent a larger area.

For example, it is not feasible to do a house-to-house survey covering the whole


country. Due to financial constraints only a small number of towns and cities can be
sampled; therefore you might choose these in a purposive way.

28

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 3 Water Sampling and Quality Control

Quota Sampling
Quota sampling is a type of stratified sampling in which selection within the strata is
non-random.

For example, you have small project of 100 biosand filters and want to asses their
effectiveness after 2 years. Your quota for the sample is 10%. Therefore, you only
need to sample 10 filters to meet this quota.
= 10% of 100 (sample size)
= 10 filters

Snowball Sampling

This method is often used when you are trying to reach populations that are
inaccessible or hard to find. The evaluator has a certain criteria they have to meet to be
considered as a sample.

29

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 3 Water Sampling and Quality Control

3.3 How to Collect Water Samples


It is important to collect water samples under normal, every day conditions in order to
gain a representative sample. Proper procedures for collecting samples must also be
observed. Techniciens should be properly trained since the way in which samples are
collected has an important bearing on the tests results
Samples should be collected in a non-reactive borosilicate glass, plastic bottle or plastic
bag that has been cleaned, rinsed and sterilized. A sample container is usually
provided as part of portable field kits. Disposable Whirl-pak sample bags are another
option to collect water samples although they are more expensive than reusable
containers ($0.10-0.20/bag).

Whirl-pak Sample Bag


(120 to 720 ml)

Plastic Sample Bottles


(200 to 1500 ml)

100 ml is the minimum volume that should be taken as a sample to obtain reliable
results, especially for microbiological testing. More water should be collected than
needed (i.e. 200 1000 ml) in case if multiple tests are required.
Every sample container should have a label. The sample label has information about:

Project name
Sample location (e.g. household, source)
Sample description (e.g. inlet water, storage bucket water)
ID number
Date and time
Name of the person collecting the sample.
Test to be performed (optional)

30

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 3 Water Sampling and Quality Control

You need to take care to avoid contaminating the container and the water sample.
General procedures for collecting drinking water samples are as follows:

Do not touch inside of the sample container


Do not rinse the sample container
Do not put the cap of sample container on the ground while sampling
Always label the container before sampling
(Adapted from WHO, 1997).

You can reuse heat resistant plastic and glass sample containers but you will need to
sterilize them in an autoclave or a pressure cooker. If these are not available, you can
boil them and let them dry with their lid partially closed until they cool down, then close
tight to avoid contamination.
If another person is assigned to take a water sample, you must tell them about:

The purpose for which the analysis is required


The location, number and type of samples required
The accuracy and precision of analysis required
The required reporting forms

3.3.1 Sampling a Surface Water Source


You should try to obtain samples that are representative of the source of the drinking
water supply. Do not take samples that are too near the bank, too far from the point of
draw off, or at a depth above/below the point of draw off. Water quality can change
depending on the time of day or season. It is important to sample at the same time of
day and record the weather conditions when you are taking your sample.
It may be possible to take samples by hand if it is easy to get the water. In many cases
it may be inconvenient or dangerous to enter the water source such as river, pond or
canal. In these cases, you may need to tie your container to a piece of wire or rope and
throw it into the water.
To sample the water:

Grasp the sample container firmly and dip the open mouth of the container into the
water.
Submerge the container about 30 cm below the surface of the water and scoop up
the water sample. This scooping action ensures that no external contamination
enters the sample container.
Lift the sample container carefully and place on a clean surface where it cannot be
knocked over.

In areas where the water is moving water (e.g. rivers and streams) the sample should
be taken against the direction of flow.

31

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 3 Water Sampling and Quality Control

3.3.2 Sampling an Open Well

Fasten a cable, rope or string to the sample container.


Lower the sample container into the well or tank, taking care not to allow the
container to touch the walls of the structure where it may pick up dirt.
Submerge the container to a depth of 30 cm. Lift the sample container carefully and
place on a clean surface.

3.3.3 Sampling a Pump

Pump water to waste for 5-10 minutes or until the water temperature has stabilized.
Take a water sample with the sample container.

3.3.4 Sampling a Tap

Remove any attachments (e.g. nozzles, pipes) from the tap.


Carefully clean and disinfect the inside and outside of the tap.
Open the tap and let water flow for 2-3 minutes before taking a sample. This
ensures that any deposits in the pipes are washed out.
Take a water sample with the sample container.

3.3.5 Sampling a Storage Container


Pre-treatment
Your technique will also depend on type of storage container. If possible, lower the
sample container into the tank, taking care not to allow the container to touch the walls
of the container where it may pick up dirt. Submerge the container to a depth of 30 cm.
Lift the sample container carefully and place on a clean surface.

Post-treatment
Carefully take off the lid (if available) of the stored container and pour water into the
sample container. Do not use the ladle or dipping cup that the household may use as it
may introduce contamination which is not from the storage container.

3.3.6 Sampling a HWT Technology


Many project implementers are concerned about the effectiveness of their HWT
technology and want to make sure that it is effectively removing pathogens from
drinking water. In this case, it is only worthwhile to carry out water quality testing if the
technology is being operated and maintained properly. We already know that any
technology will not produce good quality water if it is not being used correctly, so it is
not worth spending money on water quality testing. Therefore any HWT technology
which is not fulfilling the normal operating conditions should be recorded as not
operating properly (NOP) and no samples should be taken.

32

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 3 Water Sampling and Quality Control

The following 8 conditions for a biosand filter must be checked before taking a water
sample:

Filter is being used for more than one month since installation
Diffuser is in good condition and placed properly
Flow rate is equal to or less than 0.6 L/minute
Water level is 5 cm above the sand
Top of sand is level
Inlet water turbidity is less than 50 NTU
Filter is used daily
No leaks

To take a sample from a biosand filter, first clean and disinfect the outlet pipe. Pour a
bucket of water into the filter until it is full. Take a sample of the outlet water into the
sample container. Note that the sample you are taking is actually the water that has
been sitting in the filter during the pause period and it may not match the source of the
water that was just poured into the filter.
The following 3 conditions for a ceramic filter must be checked before taking a water
sample:

No visible cracks or breaks in the ceramic filter container


Flow is not more than 2 L/hour

To take a sample from a ceramic filter, first clean and disinfect the tap. Open the tap
and fill the sample container.
The following 5 conditions for SODIS must be checked before taking a water sample:

Bottles are made of clear, PET plastic


Size of bottles is not greater than 10 cm (4) in diameter
Bottles have a lid and does not leak
Bottles are not scratched and/or dirty
Bottles are kept at least 6 hours or more in the sun

3.4 How to Transport Water Samples


Bacteria do not generally survive well in water due to a variety of factors. It is well
known that the numbers of bacteria within a water sample rapidly decline 24 hours after
it has been collected. Temperature can also affect die off within the water sample, with
higher temperatures leading to greater die offs.
Samples should be collected and placed on ice in an insulated container if they cannot
be tested immediately; preferably held at <10 C during transit. Samples should be
tested the same day and refrigerated overnight if necessary. If the time between
collection and test exceeds 6 hours, the final report should include information on the
conditions and duration of sample transport. Samples exceeding 30 hours holding time
(from collection to testing) should not be tested (BCCDC, 2006; Bartram et al., 1996).

33

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 3 Water Sampling and Quality Control

3.5 How to Dilute a Water Sample


You may have to dilute your samples if there are high levels of contamination. Diluting
your sample with distilled water will reduce the concentration of the contamination
making it easier to measure and obtain more accurate results
The following table provides an example method to calculate sample dilutions for the
membrane filtration method in microbiological testing. It is used to avoid too many
coliform colonies growing making the sample too numerous to count (TNTC).
Example Sample Dilutions

Volume of sample

Volume of distilled
water mixed

Volume filtered

1 ml
5 ml
10 ml
50 ml
100 ml

99 ml
95 ml
90 ml
50 ml
0 ml

100 ml
100 ml
100 ml
100 ml
100 ml

Multiplication
factor to obtain
CFU per 100 ml
100 x
20 x
10 x
2x
1x

Dilution Tips:

Take a small sample volume with a sterile pipette


Working with small sample volumes can reduce the accuracy of results. Moreover
you need to be vary careful on how you handle the sample
If distilled water is not available, you can use boiled water (eg. clean rainwater,
bottled water or spring water).
For microbiological testing, never use chlorinated water to dilute your samples as
chlorine residual will affect your test results (it will kill the bacteria you are trying to
test for)

34

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 3 Water Sampling and Quality Control

3.6 Ensuring Quality Control


When we carry out repeated tests many times on the same sample of water, it will
rarely happen that we get the same results each time. This is due to the inherent
variability associated with all analytical techniques. Therefore, the result of a water
quality test is only a best-estimate or approximation of the true value of what is being
measured. It is not possible to tell if a test result is exactly right.
Scientific research studies often explain the level of precision including details of the
statistical analysis that was conducted on the results. Statistical analysis of test results
is a complex subject and falls outside the scope of this manual. This section, therefore
presents only a simplified discussion of the most important aspects of quality control
during sampling and testing.
There are two types of errors which commonly contribute during water quality testing:
random and systematic. Random errors (often related to precision) occur from many
different non-measurable contributing sources. The following are the potential sources
of random error:

Non-detectable variance in individual measurements used in the overall


measurement such as volume, mass and scale values
Fluctuations in light intensity, temperature, humidity, power supply and
electromagnetic effects
Human variance
Non-detectable deterioration in resources - human (alertness/fatigue), equipment
(calibration/standardization) and chemicals (quality)

Systematic errors (often related to bias) occur from different measurable sources or
valuable judgment which can be determined, reduced and in some cases eliminated.
Systematic errors usually produce a bias (or shift) of the result from the true value. The
sources of such error can be associated with the measurement technique such as poor
training of the analysts and poor calibration of equipment.
The major strategies for reducing the role of random and systematic errors are:

Increase sample size a larger sample will yield more precise estimates of
population parameters
Reduce measurement variability by using strict measurement protocols, better
instrumentation, or averages of multiple measurements
Improve sampling procedures a more refined sampling strategy (e.g., stratified
random sampling combined with the appropriate analytic techniques can often
reduce sampling variability compared to simple random sampling)
Use water quality testing forms to record the name of samples and other values

Regardless if you are conducting field or laboratory testing, a quality control system
should be designed from the planning stage to help reduce errors. Your system will be
simpler for field testing, but it should have a basic set of operating principles, practices
and actions necessary to remove or reduce errors caused by personnel, equipment,
supplies and analytical methodology.
In general a quality control system should include the following:
35

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 3 Water Sampling and Quality Control

Staff organization and responsibilities


Documenting all policies, procedures and methods for laboratory activities.
Proper training for anyone taking water samples or conducting tests (e.g.
Community Health Promoters, Product Manufacturers)
Maintenance of equipment including calibration
Validating test methods so that the capability of each method is known in terms of
accuracy, precision, working range and detection levels.
Maintaining all sampling records and test results
Ensuring that results are reported clearly
Checklist for Ensuring Quality Control
Items

Calculation and
records
Standard
solutions

Reagents

Equipment

Checks
Check calculations for a transportation of digits or arithmetic errors.
Confirm that results have been recorded in the proper units and that any
transfer of data from one record to another has been made correctly.
Check the standard solutions that are used for calibrating equipment.
Old solutions may have deteriorated and errors may have occurred
Check on storage conditions, the age of solutions and their expected
shelf-life.
Check whether old reagents have deteriorated.
Check fresh reagents to ensure that they have been properly prepared.
Check the storage conditions of reagents, especially those that must
be stored away from the light or at a high temperature.
Check the shelf-life of reagents, discarding any that are outdated or
have been improperly stored
Check calibration records and maintenance records for all equipment.
Items such as automatic pipettes, balance and digital spectrometers
should be checked and recalibrated if appropriate.
Ascertain that equipment is being properly used.

(WHO, 2001)
The following sections describe practices and actions that you can undertake to help
ensure accurate and reliable test results.
3.6.1 Selecting Equipment and Products
There are several different types of equipment and products available in the market for
water quality testing (see Appendix 1). All products have their own advantages and
limitations. Some products are easy to operate but may lack in precision. Others are
accurate but may be difficult to read. Similarly some products are unable to measure a
small quantity. Therefore, selecting the appropriate equipment is important to meet
your testing objectives.

36

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 3 Water Sampling and Quality Control

Example
A supplier produces test strips for measuring pH. Two products are available. One with
a range between pH 1 to 14 and another with a range of 6.5 to 10.0. As drinking water
usually lies between 6.5 and 8.5 the second strip is more suited to our work and
provides better precision.
1

10

11

12 13 14

Product 1
6.5 6.75 7 7.25 7.5 7.75 8 8.25 8.5 8.75 9 9.25 9.5 9.75

Product 2

3.6.2 Equipment Calibration


It is important to calibrate equipment according to the manufacturers specifications to
get good results. Most electronic equipment will require some sort of calibration.
Commonly used equipment that requires proper calibration include pH meters,
turbidimeters, and photometers.
Before starting microbiological testing, it is important the check and calibrate the
temperature of the incubator. The incubation temperature is dependent upon the type
of media and the test to be carried out. Therefore understanding the procedure and
recommendations of different methods is essential to get accurate results. These
procedures and recommendations can be obtained by the product manufacturer.
Some portable test kits can be easily calibrated according to the specific test needs.
Manufacturers usually supply the instructions for calibration. It is recommended that the
temperature of the incubator be checked before a batch of testing. The calibration
process can take up to 2 hours.

Important Note:
Incubators operating over the recommended temperature range can give you
completely inaccurate results.

3.6.3 Quality of Consumables and Culture Media


Most consumables and culture media have a shelf-life and should be used before they
expire. Some need to be stored in a refrigerator while others need to be kept in a cool
and dry place. You should follow the manufacturers instructions help to protect the life
of the reagents and their effectiveness.

37

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 3 Water Sampling and Quality Control

Reliability of the reagents and media is important so you may also want to test them
with a known level of contamination. You should also check the following prior to using
them:

Expiry date
Date manufactured
Condition upon delivery
Reagents catalogue and instruction

Large projects should monitor the quality of reagents, media and membranes on a
regular basis. Whenever you need to order new products, it is a good idea to compare
them with those currently in use. Appendix 4 describes more about the quality control
for culture media.
3.6.4 Unequal Distribution of Microorganisms in a Water Sample
One factor that can significantly affect test results is the uneven distribution of
microorganisms in any one water source and even within one water sample. This
happens because bacteria like to clump together and may also stick to the sides of
your sample container.
It is not uncommon for independent tests performed from a single water sample, and
using the same test method, to produce slightly different results. Test results are most
variable when microorganisms are present in very low concentrations (BCCDC, 2006).

Important Note:
It is recommended to thoroughly shake any water sample for at least 10 seconds
before testing to help ensure an even distribution of microorganisms throughout the
water.

3.6.5 Secondary Contamination


Water samples for microbiological testing need to be handled carefully to avoid
secondary contamination. The following steps should be undertaken to enhance the
quality of test results.

Wash hands before starting work


Regularly clean your working area with disinfectant
Put testing equipment in a clean place
Never touch the inside of equipment (e.g. sample containers, Petri dishes, test
tubes)
Never eat, drink or smoke when carrying out tests
Wear gloves if you have any open wounds
If testing from more than one source at the same time, test the least contaminated
samples first (e.g. test filtered water first, then storage water, and test source water
last)

38

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 3 Water Sampling and Quality Control

Equipment must be cleaned and sterilized thoroughly before each use to avoid
secondary contamination and ensure accurate results. Manufacturers usually include
instructions on how to sterilize their equipment.
Some methods for disinfecting equipment in the field are:
Dry heat: The flame from a gas cigarette-lighter, for example, can be used to

disinfect forceps used for holding membrane filter paper. It must be a butane or
propane gas lighter, not one that uses gasoline or similar liquid fuel or matches,
which would blacken the forceps.
Formaldehyde: This gas is a powerful bactericide. It is generated by the combustion

of methanol (but no other alcohol) in a closed space where oxygen becomes


depleted. In the field, this is a convenient way to disinfect the filtration apparatus
between uses. Wait 5 minutes to ensure sterilization.
Disinfecting reusable materials: Reusable materials, such as Petri dishes (glass or

metal), may be disinfected by putting them in boiling water for 15 minutes, by heating
them at 180oC for 30 minutes in an oven, or by heating in a pressure cooker for at
least 20 minutes.
Never use bleach, chlorine or disinfectants that may leave a residue without properly

rinsing (with distilled water) or boiling the equipment afterwards. The residue may
affect results by inhibiting or killing the bacteria you are trying to test for.
(Adapted from WHO, 1996)
3.6.6 Multiple Sampling
Duplicate or triplicate samples can be collected to enhance the reliability of the test.
They are independent samples taken from the same location at approximately the
same time. It is recommended to collect duplicate or triplicate samples at a rate of 5%
(see box below); however it depends on the availability of resources (WHO, 1996).

Example of duplicate sampling at 5%


A rate of 5% duplicate samples means you need to duplicate every 1 in 20 samples. So
if you plan to test 100 samples of water, you will need to take a duplicate sample of
sample number 20, 40, 60, 80 and 100. So you will end up with 5 more samples to test.
It is important that you collect the duplicate in a different container as this will help
identify possible errors in sample collection.

39

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 3 Water Sampling and Quality Control

3.6.7 Controls: Blank Sampling and True Positives


Blank samples help with quality control to make sure that secondary contamination is
not taking place. Method blanks and, where possible, field blanks should be tested with
your samples. A method blank uses distilled water, although boiled water can be used if
distilled water is not available. You test the method blank the same as your field
samples. If the method blank shows any results from the test, then you know that there
was some secondary contamination.
A field blank is distilled water that has been bottled in the laboratory, transported with
sample bottles to the site, preserved and transported back with the other samples for
testing.
Important Note:
It is recommended to use blank samples 5% of the time during the testing process.
This means you have to add 1 blank sample in every 20 samples
A true positive sample is the opposite of a blank sample. You use (or create) a sample
which you are certain has fecal contamination. A long stick in a pit latrine or any other
method should help you create the sample (remember 1g of feces contains over
millions of coliform bacteria). Be careful not to cross-contaminate your other samples
with this highly contaminate sample. Make sure to filter this sample last. If no growth
occurs in this sample there may be a problem with your culture media or incubator.
3.6.8 Reading Test Results
Correct reading of the test results is also important for quality control. Reading results
can be subjective depending on the individual who is doing the test. For example,
chemical tests that use test strips need to have an accurate colour match which relies
on a visual observation.
People who are conducting microbiological testing should be trained on how to properly
read the results since they can be more complicated to interpret. Section 6 provides
more information on how to read microbiological test results.

40

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 3 Water Sampling and Quality Control

3.7 Checklist for Field Work


The following are things to remember to bring when you go to the field to take water
samples and conduct tests.
For sampling
Sample bottles (sterilized), labels and marker pens
Transport containers and ice packs to keep the samples cool
Spares of all above items
For documentation
Pens
Sample labels
Field notebook
Data sheet
For testing
List of tests to be performed on site
Test procedures and equipment manuals
Testing equipment
Consumables (including distilled water, pH buffers, standards and blanks)
Check and calibrate any electronic meters (pH, turbiditimeter and incubator)
First-aid kit

3.8 Health and Safety


It is important to work safely and avoid injuries while carrying out water quality testing.
It is the responsibility of the project implementer to provide safety equipment, but it is
the responsibility of each individual to use the equipment properly and to request
equipment if it is not available. It is also the responsibility of project implementer to
provide safety training to anyone involved in water sampling and testing.
In addition, the technician should understand any special hazards and risks associated
with specific chemicals such as arsenic and methanol and follow the prescribed safety
precautions.
Samples and any waste generated during the testing process may contain pathogens
or chemicals that may be harmful to health and must be properly and safely disposed.
See section 6 on how to dispose of waste.

41

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 3 Water Sampling and Quality Control

3.9 Summary of Key Points

The sample size will differ between small and large projects.

There are two types of sampling methods: probability and non-probability.

The goal of water sampling is to collect the sample under normal, every day
conditions in order to gain a representative sample of the water source.

Many project implementers are concerned about the effectiveness of a HWT


technology and want to make sure that it is effectively removing pathogens from
drinking water. It is only worthwhile to carry out water quality testing if the
technology is being operated and maintained properly. Samples should not be
taken from any HWT technology which is not fulfilling the normal operating
conditions.

The numbers of bacteria within a water sample rapidly decline 24 hours after it has
been collected. Samples should be collected and placed on ice in an insulated
container if they cannot be analyzed immediately. Samples should be analyzed the
same day and refrigerated overnight if necessary. Samples exceeding 30 hours
holding time (from collection to testing) should not be tested.

There is an inherent variability associated with all analytical techniques. Therefore,


the result of a water quality test is only a best-estimate or approximation of the true
value of being measured.

There are two types of errors which commonly contribute during water quality
testing: random errors and systematic errors.

Regardless if you are conducting field or laboratory testing, a quality control system
should be designed to help reduce errors.

It is not uncommon for independent tests performed from a single water sample,
and using the same test method, to produce slightly different results. Test results
are most variable when microorganisms are present in very low concentrations.

It is the responsibility of the project implementer to provide safety equipment and


training to anyone involved in water sampling and testing.

42

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 3 Water Sampling and Quality Control

Quality Control Summary


During sampling

Label the bottle before taking a water sample


Do not touch the inside of the bottle
Do not rinse the bottle
Do not put the bottle cap on the ground while sampling

During testing

Wash hands before starting work


Regularly clean your working area with disinfectant
Put testing equipment in a clean place
Never eat, smoke or drink when carrying out water quality tests
Cover wounds with a waterproof dressing or wear gloves
Never touch the inside of equipment sample containers, Petri dishes, measuring
containers
Calibrate equipment according to directions
Check to ensure reagents have not expired

During sterilization

Sterilize equipment between uses


Boil metal or glass equipment for 15 minutes OR
Heat in pressure cooker for 20 minutes OR
Heat in oven at 180C for 30 minutes

Microbiological testing

Never touch part of the filtration apparatus such as the bronze disc and the collar
Do not touch colonies with your fingers or with everyday objects such as pens and
pencils that you may use again for other purposes
Do not carry out microbiological tests in areas of food preparation
Open Petri dishes for a minimum time possible
If testing more than one type of water sample at the same time, test least
contaminated first (e.g. treated water, stored water, transport water, source water)
Properly dispose all waste materials
Use multiple samples

Health and Safety

Provide safety training for technicians


Provide safety equipment for technicians
Identify any special hazards/risks associated with the tests you are conducting (i.e.
arsenic, methanol)
Properly dispose of waste that may contain pathogens and/or chemicals

43

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 3 Water Sampling and Quality Control

3.10 References
BCCDC Environmental Health Laboratory Services (2006). Safe Drinking Water: Public
Health Laboratory Surveillance Update. British Columbia, Canada. Available at:
www.vch.ca/environmental/docs/water/safe_drinking_water.pdf
Life Water International (2004). Water Quality Testing: A Key to Avoiding Health Risks
Simple Test procedures for Rural Drinking Water Sources. Life Water International.
San Luis Obispo, USA. Available at:
www.medrix.org/SafeWater/Lifewater%20WaterTesting%20040625.pdf
Schoenbach, V.J., Schildkraut, J. and W. Rosamond (2004) Sources of Error. Available
at: www.epidemiolog.net/evolving/SourcesofError.pdf
Thompson T, Farwell J., Kunikane S., Jackson D., Appleyard S.,Callan P, Bartram J
and P. Kingston (2007). Chemical Safety of Drinking-water: Assessing Priorities for
Risk Management, World Health Organisation, Geneva Switzerland. Available at:
http://whqlibdoc.who.int/publications/2007/9789241546768_eng.pdf
World Health Organization (1997). Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality, Volume 3,
Surveillance and Control of Community Supplies, Geneva. Available at:
www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/dwq/gdwq2v1/en/index2.html

44

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 4 Physical Contaminants

4 Testing for Physical Contaminants


The physical characteristics of drinking water are usually things that we can measure with our
own senses: turbidity, colour, taste, odour and temperature. In general, we judge drinking water
to have good physical qualities if it is clear, tastes good, has no smell and is cool.

4.1 WHO Guidelines for Physical Parameters


The appearance, taste and odour of drinking water should be acceptable to the consumer. The
table below shows the WHO Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality for physical parameters.
WHO Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality: Physical
Parameter

WHO Guideline

Colour

Aesthetic value of < 15 True Colour Units (TCU)

Odour

Aesthetic only, no health based value is proposed

Temperature

Aesthetic only, no health based value is proposed

Turbidity

< 5 NTU
(WHO, 2007)

4.2 Potential Health Effects


Physical contaminants generally do have not direct health effects themselves; however, their
presence may relate to a higher risk of microbiological and chemical contamination which may
be harmful to human health. For example, increased turbidity levels are often associated with
higher levels of disease-causing pathogens such as viruses, parasites and some bacteria
(WHO, 2007).

4.3 Test Methods


Drinking water samples can be tested for the following physical parameters: colour, odour,
taste, temperature and turbidity. A data recording form for water quality testing is available in
Appendix 5.
4.3.1 Colour
Colour in drinking water may be due to the presence of coloured organic substances and
certain metals such as iron, manganese and copper. In general, colour of a water sample is
evaluated by simple visual observation. It can also be measured by visual comparison with a
series of standard solutions.
4.3.2 Odour and Taste
In general, odour and taste are evaluated by observation. When smelling a water sample from
an unknown source, do not breathe the odour in directly. Use your hand to gently waft the
vapours towards your nose. Never drink a sample from an unknown source.

45

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 4 Physical Contaminants

4.3.3 Temperature
A thermometer is used to measure the temperature of water.
4.3.4 Turbidity
Turbidity is the cloudiness of water that is caused by suspended particles. An increase in
turbidity means that there is increased cloudiness. Turbidity is usually caused by suspended
particles of sand, silt and clay.
Nephelometers measure the intensity of light scattered by the suspended particles. The result
is a measurement of turbidity in nephelometric turbidity units (NTU). The WHO Guideline for
turbidity in drinking water is less than 5 NTU.
A simple test to measure the turbidity is to use a 2 L clear plastic bottle filled with the sample
water. Place this on top of large print such as the CAWST logo on this manual. If you can see
this logo looking down through the top of the bottle, the water probably has a turbidity of less
than 50 NTU.
Turbidity tubes are another easy and cheap way to visually estimate NTU. DelAgua and
Wagtech portable test kits provide turbidity tubes or you can build one yourself using the
following instructions.
Equipment required (makes three tubes):

8 foot clear plastic tube (e.g. tubes used to hold fluorescent light bulbs)
3 - 1 9/16 to 1 5/8 inch Plexiglas discs
3 - 1 inch white Plexiglas discs
Sharp knife or scissors
Black permanent marker or electrical tape
Plexiglas sealant
Measuring tape or ruler

1. Using the knife-cut the 8 foot plastic tube into three equal lengths (32 inches).
2. Insert the 1 9/16 to 1 5/8 inch white Plexiglas disc into one end and seal with Plexiglas
sealant. If disc has a center hole, plug it with sealant. (Note: this will likely have to be
treated with sealant more than once to fill all spaces. An easy way to check to see if more
sealant is necessary, is to blow into the tube at the opposite end of the disc and feel if air
escapes near the end with the disc inserted into it.)
3. Using the black marker or electrical tape, color half of the white Plexiglas disc or color two
opposite quadrants black, similar to a secchi disc.
4. Drop the white and black disc into the tube.
5. Starting from the top of the target draw a line around the tube, leaving a space in the
circular line for a label.
6. As shown in the illustration, draw lines at the heights above the target according to the
following table.

46

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 4 Physical Contaminants

Note that turbidity unit labels are not always equally spaced, therefore you cannot estimate
NTUs between lines on the turbidity tube (Peterson, nd).
Line Heights on Plastic Tube
Line

Distance above target


(inches)

Turbidity Units
(approximate NTU)

2.875

200

4.5

100

7.5

50

12.25

20

17

15

20.75

10

There are also different types of electronic turbidimeters that you can buy from companies like
Hach and Wagtech. A turbidimeter is operated by a battery or power supply and it gives the
digital reading of the turbidity level. Although it is more expensive and vulnerable to damage,
the turbidimeter gives more accurate results. It has the capacity to measure a wide range of
turbidiy levels and is useful to measure filtered water which may have levels less than 10 NTU.

Wagtech Turbidimeter
(Wagtech, nd)

47

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 4 Physical Contaminants

4.4 Interpreting Test Results


In general, we judge drinking water to have good physical qualities if it is clear, tastes good,
has no smell and is cool.
4.4.1 Colour
Levels of colour above 15 TCU can be detected in a glass of water by most people, although it
generally does not pose a health threat. Colour may occur in drinking water for any one or
more of several reasons. It may be due to the presence of:

Natural organic matter and vegetation, such as leaves and bark


Metals such as iron, manganese and copper, which are abundant in nature and are
naturally coloured (see section 5.6 for more information about testing chemicals)
Highly coloured industrial waste, the most common of which are pulp and paper and textile
waste
Colour Observations
Observations

Possible Contaminants

Foamy

Detergents

Black

Manganese, bacteria growth

Brown, yellow or red

Iron

Dark brown or yellow

Tannins and pigment from vegetation

White deposits or scale

Hardness, dissolved metals


(Adapted from Singh et al., 2003)

The colour of surface water is mainly due to natural organic matter. In general, hard surface
water is less coloured than soft surface water. The colour of groundwater is usually due to its
the presence of metals, such as iron, manganese and copper. In some areas, especially those
associated with limestone, the colour of groundwater from both shallow and deep wells may be
from natural organic matter (Health Canada, 1995).
The presence of colour in water may have an effect on the measurement of turbidity. As well,
moderate colour in certain types of water may have an adverse effect upon the removal of
turbidity by coagulation and sedimentation (Health Canada, 1995).
Water that is coloured with organic matter can also reduce the effectiveness of disinfection with
chlorine and make it difficult to produce free residual chlorine.

48

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 4 Physical Contaminants

4.4.2 Odour and Taste


Although taste and odour are not parameters of health concern, they are perhaps the most
important characteristics of drinking water from the point of view of the user. It is next to
impossible to convince people that water is safe to drink if it either tastes or smells bad. Bad
taste and odour may cause people to reject the water in favour of another.
A common example is chlorine. People often dislike the taste and smell of over-chlorinated
water (in the context of a new water supply or household chlorination initiative) and will prefer to
go back to a possibly contaminated drinking water source. Guidance in proper dosage and
awareness raising should always accompany supply of chlorinated water.
Newly drilled boreholes in ground with high concentration of iron, or which have not been
properly disinfected after drilling can develop a smell and taste over time. The well could
eventually be abandonded. A similar scenario can occur with saline (salty) aquifers.
Althought taste and odour themselves do not pose a health threat, they may indicate chemical
or biological contamination, especially when a change happens quickly. Poor taste or odour
may suggest the need for more testing.
Odour Observations
Odour Observations

Possible Contaminants

Most frequently observed

May be detected only after addition of chlorine

Can be produced by specific bacteria called actinomycetes

Very low concentrations can lead to complaints

Grass, hay, straw, wood

Often associated with algal by-products and sometimes


described as decayed vegetation

Marshy, swampy, septic,


sewage, rotten egg

Very offensive

Sulphur that is natural or human made

Chlorine

Chlorine residual after disinfection

Earthy, musty, mouldy

(Adapted from Government of PEI, nd)

4.4.3 Temperature
Temperature does not carry any significance in terms of contaminaton. However, we generally
prefer cool water over warm water. High water temperature (20-30C) can also enhance the
growth of microorganisms and may lead to taste, odour, colour and corrosion problems. The
most desirable temperature for drinking water is between 4oC to 10oC (39-50oF) and
temperatures above 25oC (77oF) are usually objectionable.

49

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 4 Physical Contaminants

4.4.4 Turbidity
Turbidity is usually caused by suspended particles of sand, silt and clay which are not harmful
in low amounts. However, higher turbidity levels are often associated with higher levels of
viruses, parasites and some bacteria because they can sometimes attach themselves to the
dirt in the water. Therefore, we must be cautious of turbid water as it usually has more
pathogens, so drinking it increases our chances of becoming sick.
Drinking water should have a turbidity of less than 5 NTU. If it is greater than 5 NTU,
sedimentation and/or filtration should be undertaken to reduce the levels. The graph below
shows how microbiological contamination (indicated by E.coli) can incease with turbidity.
Relationship between level of turbidity and presence of E. coli in source water.

Turbidity is also a key factor in the operation of different HWT technologies. Water with a
turbidity level greater than 50 NTU should be sedimented or strained before it goes through a
biosand or ceramic filter. The turbidity must be very low (less than 30 NTU) for chlorine or
SODIS to effectively disinfect drinking water.

50

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 4 Physical Contaminants

4.5 Summary of Key Points

The physical characteristics of drinking water are usually things that we can measure with
our own senses: turbidity, colour, taste, odour and temperature.

In general, we judge drinking water to have good physical qualities if it is clear, tastes good,
has no smell and is cool.

Physical contaminants generally do have not direct health effects themselves; however,
their presence may relate to a higher risk of microbiological and chemical contamination
which may be harmful to human health.

Turbidity is the cloudiness of water that is caused by suspended particles of sand, silt and
clay which are not harmful in low amounts. Higher turbidity levels are often associated with
higher levels of viruses, parasites and some bacteria. Since pathogens are the main source
of water-related diseases, we must be cautious of turbid water.

The turbidity of the source water is also a key factor in the operation of different HWT
technologies. Water with a turbidity level greater than 50 NTU should be sedimented or
strained before it goes through a biosand or ceramic filter. The turbidity must be very low
(less than 30 NTU) for chlorine or SODIS to effectively disinfect drinking water.

51

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 4 Physical Contaminants

4.6 References
Government of Prince Edward Island (nd). Taste and Odour. Environment, Engergy and
Forestry, Canada. Available at: www.gov.pe.ca/envengfor/index.php3?number=43848&lang=E
Health Canada (1995). Colour, Water Quality, Environmental and Workplace Health. Available
at: www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ewh-semt/pubs/water-eau/colour-couleur/index_e.html
Peterson, J. (nd) UWEX Environmental Resources Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison,
USA. Available at: http://clean-water.uwex.edu/wav/monitoring/turbidity/tubedirections.htm
Wagtech International (2006). An Introduction to Portable Water Quality Testing.
Avalable at: www.wagtech.co.uk
World Health Organization (2007). Chemical Safety of Drinking-water: Assessing Priorities for
Risk Management. Geneva, Switzerland. Available at:
http://whqlibdoc.who.int/publications/2007/9789241546768_eng.pdf

52

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 4 Physical Contaminants

Assignment: Self Assessment


1. What is the WHO guideline for turbidity? What are higher turbidity levels are often
associated with?

2. a) What should be done to water with a turbidity level greater than 50 NTU?

b) For chlorine and SODIS to effectively work, what should the level of turbidity be?

3. a) What is the main concern with water that has a bad taste or odor.

b) How do you interpret the water quality if you smell a rotten egg odour?

4. a) Why might color occur in drinking water?

b) What does a yellow or reddish colour indicate?

Answers:
Question 1 (See Section 4.4.4)
Question 2 (See Section 4.4.4)
Question 3 (See Section 4.4.2)
Question 4 (See Section 4.4.1)

53

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 5 Chemical Contaminants

5 Testing for Chemical Contaminants


Water may contain chemicals which can be beneficial or harmful to our health. Many
chemicals find their way into our drinking water supply through different natural processes
and human activities. Naturally occurring chemicals, such as arsenic, fluoride, sulfur, calcium
and magnesium, are generally found in groundwater. Human activities can add other
chemicals such as nitrogen, phosphorous and pesticides to our ground, surface and rain
water. Many developing countries are experiencing a rise in industrial activity with no strict
compliance to environmental rules and regulations. As a result, water sources are
increasingly becoming contaminated with industrial chemical waste.

While microbiological contamination is the largest public health threat, chemical


contamination can be a major health concern in some cases. Water can be chemically
contaminated through natural causes (e.g. arsenic, fluoride) or through human activity (e.g.
nitrate, heavy metals, pesticides).
(UNICEF, 2008)

The health concerns related to chemicals in drinking water are mainly those that cause
adverse effects after long term exposure. The severity of these health effects depends upon
the chemical and its concentration, as well as the length of exposure. There are only a few
chemicals that can lead to health problems after a single exposure, except through massive
accidental contamination of a drinking water supply (WHO, 2006).
There are many chemicals that may occur in drinking water; however only a few cause
health effects on a large-scale. Arsenic and fluoride are usually the chemicals that we are
most concerned about in developing countries. Other chemicals, such as nitrates and
nitrites, lead and uranium may also be an issue under certain conditions (WHO, 2006).

Often chemical contamination goes unnoticed until disease occurs due to chronic exposure.
By this time it can be too late to regain health by changing water sources, hence water
should be tested for chemicals from the outset.
(UNICEF, 2008)

Natural chemical contamination rarely changes over time for a particular water source.
Hence, testing for chemical contamination is done less frequently or only during
commissioning of a new water source.
HWT technologies may not be able to remove all chemical contaminants from drinking
water. Therefore, water quality testing carried out at the water source can help to identify an
effective and appropriate HWT technology for a particular area.

54

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 5 Chemical Contaminants

5.1 WHO Guidelines for Chemical Contaminants


Pure water does not actually exist in nature, as all water contains some naturally occurring
chemicals that have leached from the surrounding environment. In most cases, the levels of
naturally occurring chemicals are either beneficial, or minimal and of little consequence.
There are also many human made chemicals that can contaminate water and affect its
usability. Sources of chemical contaminants can be divided into the following five groups.
Sources of Chemical Contamination
Source of Chemicals

Examples
Rocks and soils

Naturally occurring chemicals

Chemicals from agricultural


activities
Chemicals from human
settlements
Chemicals from industrial
activities
Chemicals from water treatment
and distribution

Application of manure, fertilizer


and pesticides; intensive animal
production practices
Sewage and water disposal,
urban runoff, fuel leakage

Manufacturing, processing and


mining
Water treatment chemicals;
corrosion of. And leaching from,
storage tanks and pipes

Chemicals
Arsenic, Barium, Boron,
Chromium, Fluoride,
Manganese, Molybdenum,
Selenium, Sodium, Sulphate
and Uranium
Ammonia, Nitrate, Nitrite

Nitrate, ammonia, heavy metals,


pesticides, other organic
chemical
Antimony, Cadmium, Cyanide,
Lead, Nickel, Mercury
Aluminium, Chlorine, Iodine,
Silver, Zinc
(WHO, 2004)

The risks associated with chemically contaminated water are identified through the
comprehensive testing of water samples. Once a contaminant has been identified, it is
possible to establish the effects it will have on human health using previously conducted
research. However, most developing countries do not have the resources to acquire this
knowledge. So, why do we talk about this?
The WHO established a set of drinking water guidelines based on research and experiments
to recommend the maximum chemical contaminant concentrations for drinking water.
The WHO Guidelines were recommended on the basis of a tolerable daily intake (TDI) of
contaminants. A dose of TDI is varied on the weight of body and quantity of daily drinking
water consumption (WHO, 2006).
Appendix 9 summarizes the WHO Guidelines for chemical contaminants.

55

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 5 Chemical Contaminants

5.2 Common Chemical Parameters for Testing


Some of the most common chemical parameters with their associated health effects are
presented in the following paragraphs. Appendix 9 summarizes the WHO Guidelines for
chemical contaminants and their health effects.
5.2.1 Arsenic
Arsenic can naturally occur in ground water and some surface water. It is one of the greatest
chemical problems in developing countries. The WHO considers arsenic to be a high priority for
screening in drinking water sources (WHO, 2006).
High levels of arsenic can be found naturally in water from deep wells in over 30 countries,
including India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Lao PDR, Mexico,
Nicaragua, El Salvador and Brazil. In south Asia alone, it is estimated that 60 to 100 million
people are affected by unsafe levels of arsenic in their drinking water. Bangladesh is the
most severely affected, where 35 to 60 million of its 130 million people are exposed to
arsenic-contaminated water. It is possible that arsenic may be found in other locations as
more extensive testing is done.
Arsenic is poisonous, so if people drink water or eat food contaminated with arsenic for
several years, they develop chronic health problems called arsenicosis.
Melanosis is the first symptom of drinking arsenic contaminated water over a few years.
Melanosis is light or dark spots on peoples skin, often on the chest, back, or palms. The
next step is that hardening skin bulges develop on peoples palms and feet called
keratosis. Drinking high amounts of arsenic for a longer time may cause cancer in the lungs,
bladder, kidney, skin, liver, and prostate. Arsenic may also cause vascular diseases,
neurological effects, and infant developmental defects.
Arsenicosis can be partially reversed and treated in the early stages, by making sure people
stop drinking arsenic contaminated water and by improving their nutrition. There is currently
no effective cure for arsenic poisoning. The only prevention is to drink water that has safe
levels of arsenic.
According to the UNDP (2006), the projected human costs over the next 50 years include
300,000 deaths from cancer and 2.5 million cases of arsenic poisoning.
5.2.2 Chlorine
Chlorine is widely used to disinfect drinking water as the final step in the water treatment
process. Chemical disinfection using chlorine has the benefits of being relatively quick,
simple, and inexpensive. It also allows a residual amount of chlorine to remain in the water to
provide some protection against subsequent contamination.

56

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 5 Chemical Contaminants

Three things can happen when chlorine is added to water:


1. Some chlorine reacts with the organic matter and pathogens and kills them. This portion
of the added chlorine is said to be consumed.
2. Some chlorine reacts with other organic matter and forms new chlorine compounds. This
portion is called combined chlorine.
3. Excess chlorine that is not consumed or combined and remains in the water is known as
free residual chlorine (FRC).
The objective of chlorination is to add enough chlorine to leave 0.2 0.5 mg/L FRC after half
an hour contact time. Factors influencing the effectiveness of chlorine as a disinfectant are
concentration, contact time, pH, temperature and the presence of organic matter in the
water. All of these factors can vary day to day and in different seasons.
5.2.3 Fluoride
Fluoride can naturally occur in groundwater and some surface water. Drinking water is
normally the major source of fluoride exposure, with exposure from diet and from burning
high fluoride coal also major contributors in some regions.
High levels of fluoride can be found naturally in many areas of the world including, Africa, the
Eastern Mediterranean and southern Asia. One of the best known high fluoride areas
extends from Turkey through Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, India, northern Thailand and China.
However, there are many other areas with water sources that contain high fluoride levels and
which pose a risk to those drinking the water, notably parts of the rift valley in Africa. It is
possible that fluoride may be found in other locations as more extensive testing is done.
A small amount of fluoride in water is generally good for strengthening peoples teeth and
preventing decay. Fluoride is added to some city water systems and certain consumer
products to protect teeth such as toothpastes and mouthwashes.
Small amounts of fluoride are generally good for peoples teeth. But at higher amounts over
time, it can cause dental fluorosis and damage peoples teeth by staining and pitting. Over
many years, fluoride can build up in peoples bones, leading to skeletal fluorosis characterized
by stiffness and joint pain. In severe cases, it can cause changes to the bone structure and
crippling effects. Infants and young children are most at risk from high amounts of fluoride since
their bodies are still growing and developing.
There is currently no effective cure for fluorosis the only prevention is to drink water that
has safe levels of fluoride.
5.2.4 Nitrates and Nitrites
Nitrate and nitrite are naturally occurring chemicals in the environment that are part of the
nitrogen cycle. Nitrate is commonly used in fertilizers and for agriculture and nitrite is used as
food preservatives, especially in processed meat.
Nitrate in ground water and surface water is normally low but can reach high levels if there is
leaching or runoff from agricultural fertilizers or contamination from human and animal feces.
Nitrite is formed as a consequence of microbial activity and may be intermittent.

57

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 5 Chemical Contaminants

High nitrate and nitrite levels can cause serious illness by acute exposure. The main health
concern is methaemoglobinaemia, or blue baby syndrome, which occurs in infants that are
bottle fed with formula prepared with drinking water. It causes them to have difficulty breathing
and their skin turns blue from a lack of oxygen. It is a serious illness that can sometimes lead to
death.
5.2.5 Iron
Iron can be naturally found in groundwater and some surface water (such as creeks, rivers
and some shallow dug wells). There are areas of the world that have naturally high amounts
of iron in their groundwater. Iron can also be found in drinking water that is passed through
rusty steel or cast iron pipes.
Iron can come in two forms in water: dissolved and suspended. If groundwater comes from a
deep tube well, the iron may be dissolved and not visible. However, once the iron is exposed
to air, it usually turns the water black or orange colour. If surface water has iron in it, it will be
a red-orange colour from the iron that is suspended in the water.
Drinking water with high concentrations of iron will not make people sick. Iron, however, can
change the colour of water and it may cause people to not use it and choose another, possibly
contaminated, water source instead.
5.2.6 Manganese
Manganese can be naturally found in groundwater and surface water, and it usually occurs
with iron. However, human activities may also be responsible for manganese contamination
in water in some areas.
Manganese can come in two forms in water: dissolved and suspended. If groundwater
comes from a deep tube well, the manganese may be dissolved and not visible. In surface
water, manganese can be dissolved or suspended. Water with high levels of suspended
manganese usually has a black colour or black flakes in it.
People need small amounts of manganese to keep healthy and food is the major source for
people. However, too little or too much manganese can cause adverse health effects.
High levels of manganese, however, can turn water a black colour and it may cause people to
not use it and choose another, possibly contaminated, water source instead.
5.2.7 Lead
Lead contamination usually comes from human rather than natural sources. Mining activities
and abandoned mine pits can result in lead contamination of surrounding sources. The use
of lead pipes can also result in elevated lead levels in drinking water.
Long-term exposure to low lead levels can cause adverse neurological effects, especially in
infants, young children and pregnant women. Lead exposure is most serious for infants and
young children because they absorb lead more easily than adults and are more susceptible

58

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 5 Chemical Contaminants

to its harmful effects. Even low level exposure may harm the intellectual development,
behaviour, size and hearing of infants (Environment Canada, 2004).
5.2.8 pH
pH is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of the water. The pH for drinking water generally
lies between 6.5 and 8.0. Water at 25C (80 F) with a pH less than 7.0 is considered acidic,
while a pH greater than 7.0 is considered basic (alkaline). When a pH level is 7.0, it is
considered neutral.
The pH of the water in a stream, river, lake or underground flow will vary depending on a
number of conditions: the source of the water; the type of soil, bedrock and vegetation
through which it travels; the types of contaminants the water encounters in its path; and even
the amount of mixing and aeration due to turbulence in its flow. The effects of a specific type
of water pollution on living plants and animals can vary greatly.

No health-based guideline value is proposed for pH by the WHO. Although pH usually has
no direct impact on consumers, it is one of the most important water quality parameters for
HWT. For example, for effective disinfection with chlorine, the pH should preferably be less
than 8.

59

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 5 Chemical Contaminants

5.2.9 Total Dissolved Solids (TDS)


Total dissolved solids (TDS) are made up of inorganic salts (mainly sodium chloride,
calcium, magnesium, and potassium) and small amounts of organic matter that are
dissolved in water. There are areas of the world that have naturally high amounts of TDS in
their drinking water.
TDS in drinking water comes from natural sources, sewage, urban runoff and industrial
wastewater. Brackish or saline aquifers can exist naturally or develop overtime in coastal
regions with sea water infiltration due to lowering of aquifer depths.
Drinking water with high concentrations of total dissolved solids will not make people sick.
Although there are no direct health concerns, TDS concentrations greater than 1,200 mg/L (e.g.
brackish or saline water) cause a bitter or salty taste. Some people can taste salt in drinking
water at levels around 500 mg/L, and it may cause them to not use it and choose another,
possibly contaminated, water source instead.
Water with extremely low TDS concentrations (e.g. rainwater) may also be unacceptable
because of its flat taste.
Electrical conductivity (EC) of a substance is defined as its ability to conduct or transmit
electricity. The presence of chemicals (such as calcium and magnesium ions) gives water
the ability to conduct electricity. Testing for EC does not give specific information about the
chemicals present in water, but it gives an estimation of TDS. Thus, the EC of water is an
indirect measure of dissolved chemicals.
TDS (mg/L or ppm) = EC (S/cm) x 0.67

60

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 5 Chemical Contaminants

5.3 Test Methods


There are several factors to be taken into consideration when choosing an appropriate
testing method, including:

available resources
required level of sensitivity and specificity
technical skills
geographical location
type and purpose of the results required

Laboratory and field testing are the two main methods used by government and nongovernmental organisations. NGOs tend to favor a portable field kit for their chemical
testing, whereas governmental institutes, research centers and universities generally prefer
to use laboratory testing which can provide more accurate results. The following table lists
the recommendations made by UNICEF for appropriate test methods and equipment.
Recommended Test Methods for Different Chemicals
Chemical
pH
Ammonia
Antimony
Arsenic
Barium
Boron
Cadmium
Chlorine (free)
Chloride
Chromium
Copper
Cyanides
Fluoride
Iron
Lead
Manganese
Mercury
Molybdenum
Nickel
Nitrates
Nitrites
Silver
Selenium
TDS
Uranium

Recommended Test Methods


Test strips, digital meter
Test strips, laboratory
Laboratory
Laboratory, Gutzeit Method (Digital and visual Arsenator)
Laboratory
Laboratory
Laboratory
Comparator, test Strips, photometer
Test strips, laboratory
Pocket colorimeter, photometer
Colour disc, colorimeter, laboratory
Colour disc, colorimeter, laboratory
Colorimeter, Photometer
Colour disc, photometer, colorimeter
Colorimeter, laboratory
Colorimeter, photometer
Laboratory
Laboratory
Colorimeter, laboratory
Test strips, colour disc, colorimeter, photometer
Test strips, colour disc, colorimeter, photometer
Laboratory
Laboratory
Digital meter
Laboratory

(UNICEF, 2003)

61

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 5 Chemical Contaminants

5.3.1 Laboratory Test Methods


The following methods are generally used to test chemical contaminants in the laboratory.

Colorimetric Method

This method is based on measuring the intensity of colour of a reaction product or a


coloured target chemical. The optical absorbance is measured using light of a suitable
wavelength. The concentration is determined by means of a calibration curve obtained using
known concentrations of the determinant.

Atomic Absorption Spectrometer (AAS)

This method is used to analyze the presence of metals. Atomic Absorption Spectrometry
(AAS) is based on the phenomenon that free atoms in the ground state can absorb light of a
certain wavelength. Each element has its own specific absorption, meaning no other
elements absorb this wavelength when light is passed through the atom in its vapour state.
As this absorption of light depends on the concentration of atoms in the vapour, the
concentration of the target element in the water sample can be determined.

Chromatography

This is a separation method based on the affinity difference between two phases: stationary
and mobile. A sample is injected into a column either packed or coated with the stationary
phase, and separated by the mobile phase based on the difference in interaction (distribution
or adsorption) between compounds and the stationary phases. Compounds with a low
affinity for the stationary phase move more quickly through the column and remove earlier.
A suitable detector measures the compounds that are removed from the column. There are
many types of chromatography: ion chromatography, liquid chromatography and gas
chromatography, which are used to identify metallic, inorganic and organic compounds.
5.3.2 Field Test Methods
There are different ways to test chemical contaminants in the field. The most popular are
test strips, colour comparators, colorimeters, and digital meters.

Test (Reagent) Strips

There are many different types of test strips available to measure different chemical
contaminants. They are generally convenient and easy to use for technical and non-technical
people; provide quick results; and are the cheapest way to do field testing. The main
limitation of test strips is that they are less accurate since they require a visual interpretation
of the results.
Test strips typically have a plastic handle with a reagent area at one end. Typically, you dip
the reagent area into a water sample, remove it, and compare the color of the reagent area
with a color chart. Some test strips work by presence/absence of a color change at a
threshold concentration.

62

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 5 Chemical Contaminants

Sometimes people ignore the instructions for the specific test strip that they are using. This
is the major pitfall, and can lead to incorrect results. There are two things to keep in mind:
the activation method and the read time. These are given on the bottle label and in the
product insert.
It is important to use the required activation mode for the test strip you are using. Different
strips require dipping the strip in the sample, or swishing the strip back and forth in the
sample, or holding the reagent area in a stream of sample. Also, test strips require different
times that you must wait before you compare the strip to the colour chart. Using the wrong
activation method or reading your resulting too early or late for that strip may lead to
incorrect results (Morris and Sweazy, nd).
Test strips are available to measure pH and a variety of chemicals including arsenic, chlorine
and manganese.

Merckoquant test
strips

The reagent area is dipped


into the water sample.

After the reaction time has


passed, the colour of the reagent
area is compared with the colour
chart on the package to determine
the concentration.

Test Strip Tips:


Understanding the limits and concentration ranges of the parameters you are testing is
essential when selecting testing equipment and consumables. Make sure to purchase the
test strip that is most suited to your purpose. Different ranges can exist for the same
parameter. For example you can find pH strips ranging from 1 to 14 (with increments of 1),
or 4.5 to 9.0 (with increments of 0.5 or even 0.25). The latter is the most suitable for drinking
water quality testing since we are generally looking for pH around 7 rather than at the
extreme ends of the scale.
Test strips are available in individual packaging which can be useful as deterioration can
occur with humidity, heat, dust and light.

63

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 5 Chemical Contaminants

Colour Disc Comparator

There are different types of colour disc comparators that are


available. The comparator is used in conjunction with a
range of interchangeable colour discs. These colour discs
are used to compare the colour produced for each chemical
test, against the standard test colours provided on the disc.
Colour discs are available for a range of chemical water
testing parameters such as chlorine, fluoride, nitrate, iron
and manganese. Colour comparators can sometimes be
more accurate than test strips, but they are more expensive,
require more materials, and still require a visual
determination of the chemical concentration.

Colorimeter and Photometer

Colorimeters and photometers use a light source to measure the


chemical concentration in a water sample. Compared to test
strips, they offer more accurate and repeatable results since the
concentration is given as a digital reading. As well, colorimeters
and photometers can read a large variety of chemicals in a water
sample as well as a wider numerical range within each
parameter. However, they are more expensive, need a power
source, and require training to ensure they are being used
properly. Portable colorimeters and photometers are available
from various suppliers.

Digital Meters

Some portable field kids include various digital meters to measure


parameters like pH and EC. They are relatively easy to use and can
provide more accurate measurements than other methods, such as test
strips. The main disadvantages are the need for calibration and general
fragility of electronic equipment.

Arsenic Test Kits

Field testing for arsenic used to be challenging and required complicated and often
inaccurate test kits. New kits have been developed making field testing easier and more
accurate. Nevertheless, most kits are not accurate below 100 g/L.
Most kits follow the sample principal which relies on the Gutzeit Method (UNICEF, 2008).
The Wagtech Digital Arsenator (initially used by UNICEF in India) is simple and easy to
operate and includes reagents to test for 420 water samples. It can measure the critical
range of 2 to 100 ppb. Environment and Public Health Organization (ENPHO) based in
Nepal has also developed an arsenic field test kit. The kit is easy to use, portable and
provides rapid results. Each kit provides the reagents to test 50 water samples. The arsenic
concentration is determined by comparing the intensity of the stain with a colour chart.
Refer to Appendix 1 for a list of available kits for arsenic and other chemical parameters.

64

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 5 Chemical Contaminants

5.4 Interpreting Test Results


Evaluating what levels of contamination is acceptable, and understanding the nature of
problems caused by different contaminants, are the basic considerations in interpreting the
test results.
Water that has been contaminated with chemicals exceeding the national standards
or WHO Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality should not be used for domestic
purposes, if at all possible. Any chemical concentration above 10% of the national
standards or WHO Guidelines increases the risk for serious health effects. Therefore,
appropriate local or national authorities should be notified as early as possible so that further
investigation can occur, and possible solutions to the problem can be implemented.
The WHO Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality do not include some chemicals such as
iron, calcium, sodium, magnesium and zinc. This is due to the fact that they pose no health
risk at the levels generally found in drinking water.
5.4.1 Arsenic
The World Health Organization (WHO) considers arsenic to be a high priority for testing in
drinking water sources. The WHO suggests that drinking water should have less than 0.01
mg/L of arsenic. (0.01 mg/L is the same as 10 g/L or 10 ppb.)

WHO Guideline for Drinking Water < 0.01 mg/L

Many countries have their own standards which are less strict, ranging from 0.025 mg/L to
0.05 mg/L (25-50 ppb). Many Southeast Asian countries that have an arsenic problem have
adopted a temporary standard of 0.05 mg/L because it is difficult to test accurately to 0.01
mg/L and to treat water to meet that standard.
Households that use drinking water with arsenic concentrations greater than 10 g/L (or 0.1
mg/L, 10 ppb), should treat their water using an appropriate HWT, like the Kanchan filter, to
reduce the levels, or use an alternative water source if at all possible.
Unfortunately most field kits are not very accurate at ranges below 100 g/L. UNICEF
suggests using them in a positive/negative format with a reference value of 50 g/L, which is
the drinking-water standard in many countries (the WHO Recommendation is 10 g/L).
Furthermore, groundwater can evolve as the water level changes in the aquifer. Arsenic
contamination can therefore develop over time. In Arsenic affected areas, a well initially
tested as negative should be tested again later.
5.4.2 Chlorine
Chlorine is widely used to disinfect drinking water as the final step in the water treatment
process. The objective of chlorination is to add enough chlorine to leave 0.2 0.5 mg/L free
residual chlorine after half an hour contact time.

65

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 5 Chemical Contaminants

5.4.3 Fluoride
The WHO suggests that drinking water should have 0.5 1.0 mg/L to protect teeth. Many
cities around the world add fluoride to their drinking water to reach this level.
Higher amounts of fluoride between 1.5 4.0 mg/L can cause dental fluorosis. Very high
amounts of fluoride greater than 10.0 mg/L can lead to skeletal fluorosis. This is why the
WHO suggests that drinking water should not have more than 1.5 mg/L of fluoride.

WHO Guideline for Drinking Water < 1.5 mg/L

Currently research is being conducted to develop HWT technologies that can effectively
remove fluoride from drinking water. In the meantime, household that use drinking water with
concentrations greater than 1.5 mg/L should try to use an alternative water source if at all
possible.
5.4.4 Nitrate and Nitrite
The WHO suggests that drinking water should have less than 50 mg/L of nitrate to protect
against methaemoglobinaemia in bottle-fed infants (short term exposure). In most countries,
nitrate levels in surface water are not more than 10 mg/L, although nitrate levels in well water
often exceed 50 mg/L (WHO, 2006).
Nitrite levels should be less than 3 mg/litre to protect infants from methaemoglobinaemia
(short-term exposure). There is a provisional guideline for long term nitrite exposure set at
less than 0.3 mg/L. The guideline value is considered provisional because of the uncertainty
of the chronic health effects and our susceptibility to it.

WHO Guideline for Nitrate < 50 mg/L


WHO Guideline for Nitrite < 3 mg/L (short-term exposure)
WHO Provisional Guidelines for Nitrite < 0.2 mg/L (long-term exposure)

Concentrations greater than 44.3 mg/L nitrate causes 97% of reported illness. High nitrate
levels are often associated with higher levels of microbiological contamination since the
nitrates may have come from manure or sewage.

66

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 5 Chemical Contaminants

5.4.5 Iron
The WHO does not have a suggested guideline for iron in drinking water since it does not
have any adverse health effects.
Usually, people do not like the taste of drinking water that has more than 0.3 mg/L of iron.
Concentrations between 1.0 3.0 mg/L can be acceptable for people drinking anaerobic well
water.
Iron levels above 0.3 mg/L can stain water pipes and clothes during washing.

No WHO Guideline for Drinking Water

Levels above 0.3 mg/L can stain laundry. Usually there is no noticeable taste below 0.3
mg/L, and concentrations between 1.0 3.0 mg/L can be acceptable for people drinking
anaerobic well water.
5.4.6 Manganese
The WHO suggests that drinking water should not have more than 0.4 mg/L of manganese.
Usually, people do not like the taste of drinking water that has more than 0.15 mg/L of
manganese. Also, amounts above 0.15 mg/L can stain water pipes, clothes during washing,
and food during cooking. Even levels of manganese below 0.05 mg/L may form black
coatings on distribution pipes that come off into water as small black flakes.
The presence of manganese in water may also lead to the accumulation of microbial
growths in the water distribution system.

WHO Guideline for Drinking Water < 0.4 mg/L

Levels above 0.15 mg/L can stain laundry and plumbing fixtures and causes a bad taste.
Even levels below 0.05 mg/L may form coatings on water distribution pipes that may slough
off as black precipitates. As with iron, the presence of manganese in water may lead to the
accumulation of microbial growths in the water distribution system.
5.4.7 Lead
Households that use drinking water with concentrations greater than 0.01 mg/L should try to
use an alternative water source if at all possible.

67

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 5 Chemical Contaminants

5.4.8 pH
Readings beyond the range of 6.5 - 8.5 give an indication that there are dissolved chemicals
present. In this scenario it is recommended to use an alternate water source if at all possible.
The optimum range for chlorine disinfection is between pH 5.5 and 7.5; disinfection is not
reliable when the pH of the water is above 9. If the pH is above the recommended range
then the quantity of chlorine added can be increased and the contact time should be
lengthened. A higher FRC level (0.6 mg/L) should be used for pH levels between 8 and 9.
5.4.9 Electrical Conductivity and Total Dissolved Solids
The WHO does not have a suggested guideline for total dissolved solids in drinking water
since it does not have any adverse health effects.
Usually, people do not like the taste of drinking water that has 500 mg/L of TDS.
High levels of TDS can stain water pipes and clothes during washing. It can also cause scale
to form in water distribution pipes and in water heater devices that come off as white flakes.

No WHO Guideline for Drinking Water

Fresh: <1,000 mg/L TDS


Brackish: 1,000 - 5,000 mg/L TDS
Highly Brackish: 5,000 - 15,000 mg/L TDS
Saline: 15,000 - 30,000 mg/L TDS
Sea Water: 30,000 - 40,000 mg/L TDS
(Water Quality Association, nd)

Testing for EC does not give specific information about the chemicals present in water, but it
gives an estimation of the TDS. More specific testing must be done to discover which
chemicals are present. TDS concentrations greater than 1200 mg/L (e.g. saline water) may
cause an objectionable taste. Water with extremely low TDS concentrations (e.g. rainwater)
may also be unacceptable because of its flat taste (WHO, 2006).

68

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 5 Chemical Contaminants

5.6 Summary of Key Points

Sources of chemical contaminants can be divided into the following five groups:

The effect of chemical contaminants on human health depends on the following factors:

Arsenic
Fluoride
Nitrates
Heavy metals (e.g. lead)

The following factors to be taken into consideration when choosing an appropriate


chemical testing method:

Type of contaminant and its concentration


Length and frequency of exposure
The users age and physical health condition
Immunity level

The chemical contaminants of most concern worldwide are:

Naturally occurring
From agricultural activities
From human settlements
From industrial activities
From water treatment and distribution

Available sources
Technical skills
Geographical location
Type and purpose of the results required

Water that has been contaminated with chemicals exceeding the national standards or
WHO Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality should not be used for domestic purposes, if
at all possible.

69

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 5 Chemical Contaminants

5.7 References
Environment Canada (2004). Canadian Water Quality Guidelines. Available at:
www.ec.gc.ca/ceqg-rcqe/English/Ceqg/Water/default.cfm#dri
Morris, D. and J. Sweazy (nd). Technical Bulletin: The Advantages and Pitfalls of Reagent
Strips in Dialysis, Other Medical, and Non-Medical Applications. Stericheck, Environmental
Test Systems. Available at: www.sterichek.com/articles.asp?AID=7&l=
UNICEF (2003). Water Quality Assessment and Monitoring, Technical Bulletin No.6.
Available at: www.supply.unicef.dk/catalogue/bulletin6.htm
UNICEF (2008), UNICEF Handbook on Water Quality. Available at:
www.unicef.org/wes/files/WQ_Handbook_final_signed_16_April_2008.pdf
United States Environmental Protection Agency (2006). Consumer Fact Sheet on
Nitrates/Nitrites. Available at: www.epa.gov/safewater/dwh/c-ioc/nitrates.html
United State Environmental Protection Agency (2006). Drinking Water and Health: What
You Need to Know. Available at: www.epa.gov/safewater/dwh/index.html
University of Adelaide (2006). School of Chemistry and Physics. Available at:
www.chemistry.adelaide.edu.au
Wagtech International (n.d.). An Introduction to Portable Water Quality Testing.
Available at: www.wagtech.co.uk
Water Quality Association (n.d.). Water Classifications.Available at:
www.pacificro.com/watercla.htm
World Health Organization (2006). Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality, Third Edition.
Geneva, Switzerland. Available at:
www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/dwq/gdwq3rev/en/index.html
World Health Organization (2007).Chemical Safety of Drinking Water: Assessing
Priorities for Risk Management. Geneva, Switzerland. Available at:
http://whqlibdoc.who.int/publications/2007/9789241546768_eng.pdf

70

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 5 Chemical Contaminants

Assignment: Self Assessment


1. a) What does pH indicate?

b) What does the pH of water depend on?

c) What does a pH reading of 9 indicate?

2. a) What are TDS and what are the sources of?

b) What does a TDS reading of 1300 mg/L indicate?

3. a) What factors should be taken into consideration when choosing an appropriate testing
method?

b) If you were going to test for pH and fluoride what tests methods could you choose?

4. What would you suggest if the test result of source water shows an arsenic contamination
between 30-40 ppb?

Answers:
Question 1 (See Section 5.2.8)
Question 2a (See Section 5.2.9)
Question 2b (See Section 5.4.9)
Question 3 (See Section 5.3)
Question 4 (See Sections 5.2.1 and 5.4.1)

71

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 6 Testing for Microbiological Contamination

6 Testing for Microbiological Contamination


Water naturally contains a diverse population of living organisms, such as aquatic plants,
animals, algae, bacteria, parasites and viruses. Some of these organisms are harmless and
others can be harmful to humans. Those of greatest concern to us are pathogens, or
disease causing organisms. We sometimes refer to these pathogens as microorganisms,
microbes or bugs, depending on the local language and country.
In the 21st century, contaminated water is the worlds second biggest killer of children. Every
year some 1.5 million people die as a result of diarrhea and other diseases caused by
unclean water and poor sanitation. Close to half of all people in developing countries suffer
at any given time from a health problem caused by water and sanitation deficits (UNDP,
2006).
The WHO Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality highlight that infectious diseases caused by
pathogenic bacteria, viruses, protozoa and helminths are common in drinking water and
inflict widespread health effects. Although there are several contaminants in water that may
be harmful to humans, the first priority is to ensure that drinking water is free of
microorganisms that cause disease (WHO, 2006). Therefore, the primary objective of
HWTS should be the removal of pathogens in the water to levels that do not cause infection
in the local population.
Testing can be done to determine if pathogens are present in the drinking water. However,
other indicators of the effectiveness of the water treatment, such as the incidence of
diarrheal diseases, can also be important and sometimes more significant than the actual
water quality indicators. The general health, well-being or energy levels of the local
population can also provide some insight into the quality of the community water supply.

72

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 6 Testing for Microbiological Contamination

6.1 WHO Guidelines for Microbiological Contaminants


The WHO Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality recommend that all water intended for
drinking should have zero fecal contamination in any 100 ml sample. However, many
countries have developed their own water quality standards which may differ from the WHO
Guidelines. For example, in 2007 Nepal developed national drinking water standards where
total coliform should be zero at least 95% of the time.
The risk of fecal contamination in drinking water using E. coli as an indicator is shown in the
following table. Many relief agencies also use these values to determine when water
treatment is required in emergency situations (adapted from Mdecins Sans Frontires,
1994).
Fecal Contamination in Drinking Water and its Associated Risk
E. coli level
(CFU/100 ml sample)

Risk

0-10

Reasonable quality

Water may be consumed as it is

Polluted

Treat if possible, but may be consumed as it is

Dangerous

Must be treated

Very Dangerous

Rejected or must be treated thoroughly

10-100
100-1000
> 1000

Recommended Action

( WHO,1997, Harvey, 2007)

Routine water quality testing techniques are not available for viruses, protozoa and
helminths. The WHO Guidelines recommend protection of the water source and treatment to
remove them from drinking water. The degree of treatment required is a function of the
source water (i.e. ground or surface water) and level of fecal contamination.

73

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 6 Testing for Microbiological Contamination

6.2 Potential Health Effects


Diseases associated with water can be categorized depending on the source of the pathogen
and the route by which we come into contact with the pathogen.
Diseases Associated with Water Contaminated with Pathogens
Possible Diseases
Diarrhea, cholera,
typhoid, shigellosis,
hepatitis A and E

Source
Water-borne

Trachoma, scabies
Water-washed
Schistosomiasis,
guinea worm

How We Get Sick


Drinking water with
pathogens
Pathogens touch the
skin or eye

Provide enough water needed for


basic hygiene.
Improve basic hygiene practices.

Pathogens go through
the skin

Do not bath or swim in water that


is known to be contaminated.
Improve water quality by
removing or killing source of
pathogens.

Pathogens are passed


on by insects that
breed or live in water,
such as
mosquitos

Prevent insects from breeding in


water. Use pesticides to control
insects. Prevent insects from
biting by using bednets and
wearing long clothes.

Water-based

Malaria, dengue,
yellow fever, filariasis,
river blindness,
sleeping sickness

Water-insect
vector

How to Stop Getting


Sick
Improve drinking water quality by
removing or killing pathogens.

74

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 6 Testing for Microbiological Contamination

Pathogens found in water can also be divided into four main categories: bacteria, viruses,
protozoa, and helminths (worms).
6.2.1 Bacteria
Bacteria are the most common microorganisms found in human and animal feces. Drinking
water contaminated by feces is the primary cause of water-borne infections. This is often
called the fecal-oral route of transmission since the source of the pathogens is human or
animal feces. With some bacteria, only a few are needed to make us sick.
The most common water-borne diseases caused by bacteria are diarrhea (also known as
gastroenteritis), cholera and typhoid. About 1.5 million people die every year from diarrheal
diseases, including cholera (WHO/UNICEF, 2005). It is estimated that 88% of diarrheal
disease is caused by unsafe water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene (WHO, 2004).
Cholera remains a global threat and is one of the key indicators of social development.
While cholera is no longer a threat to countries with basic hygiene standards, it remains a
challenge in countries where access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation is
limited.
Between 100,000 and 300,000 cases are reported each year, with over 94% of the cases in
Africa. These numbers are underestimated, as many countries in the Indian subcontinent
and southeast Asia do not report their cholera cases. A recent estimate puts the number of
people who die from cholera each year at about 120,000, and the total number of yearly
cholera cases worldwide at 3 to 5 million. Almost every developing country in the world faces
cholera outbreaks or the threat of a cholera epidemic (WHO, 2009).
Similar to cholera, typhoid is prevalent in countries that lack access to safe drinking water
and sanitation. Every year, there are an estimated 22 million cases of typhoid worldwide
resulting in 216,000 deaths (WHO, 2009a).
6.2.2 Viruses
Viruses are the smallest of the pathogens. Viruses are unable to replicate by themselves
and must invade a host cell to make more viruses. This disrupts the functions or causes the
death of the host cell. It is difficult and expensive for us to study viruses so we know less
about them than other pathogens.
Viruses that are transmitted by water can cause diarrhea, hepatitis A and E. However,
viruses generally produce milder symptoms than bacteria. Hepatitis A occurs sporadically
worldwide and is common throughout the developing world with 1.5 million cases every year
(WHO, 2004).
There are other viruses that are transmitted by vectors that depend on water to
survive. For example, mosquitoes spread diseases such as Dengue Fever, Rift
Valley Fever, Japanese Encephalitis, West Nile Fever, Ross River Fever,
Equine Encephalitis, and Chikungunya. Most of these diseases occur in tropical
and sub-tropical areas.

75

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 6 Testing for Microbiological Contamination

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and viruses causing the common cold cannot be
transmitted through water since it does not provide a suitable environment for the viruses to
survive.
6.2.3 Protozoa
Protozoa are single-celled organisms and some can stay alive without a host. Some
protozoa are able to form cysts which allow the organism to stay dormant and survive in
harsh environments. The protozoa cysts become active once the environmental conditions
become more favourable. Cryptosporidium is an example of a protozoa that can from a cyst
which is resistant to chlorine disinfection.
There are several different types of protozoa that may cause illness, such as amoeba,
cryptosporidium and giardia. On a worldwide basis, infections of amoebic dysentery are the
most common resulting in about 500 million cases each year. These protozoa live
predominantly in tropical areas.
Malaria is also a parasitic infection that is passed on by mosquitoes. Approximately 900,000
people die each year of malaria, 90% of which are children under the age of five. There are
estimated to be 247 million episodes of malaria every year, mostly occurring in sub-Saharan
Africa (WHO, 2009b).
6.2.4 Helminths
Helminths, more commonly known as worms or flukes, require a host body to survive and
are generally passed in human and animal feces. Both helminths and protozoa are
considered to be parasites. They spend part of their life in hosts that live in water before
being transmitted to humans. Many types of worms can live for several years and weaken
their host by using up their food.
Common types of helminths that cause illness in developing countries include round worms,
pin worms, hook worms and guinea worms. The WHO estimates that 133 million people
suffer from intestinal worms each year. These infections can lead to severe consequences
such as cognitive impairment, severe dysentery or anaemia, and cause approximately 9,400
deaths every year (WHO, 2000).
Schistosomiasis, also known as bilharzia, is caused by the trematode flatworm. This is
widespread disease that affects about 200 million people worldwide. Although it has a
relatively low mortality rate, schistosomiasis causes severe symptoms in millions of people.
The disease is often associated with large scale water resource projects, such as the
construction of dams and irrigation canal which provide ideal breeding grounds for the
flatworm.

76

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 6 Testing for Microbiological Contamination

6.3 Infective Dose


The minimum number of pathogens needed to make somebody sick
is called the infective dose. The presence of a pathogen in water does
not always mean that it will make someone sick. The infective dose is
different depending on the type of pathogen. Generally, bacteria have
a higher infective dose than viruses, protozoa and worms. This means
that with some bacteria, larger numbers need to be ingested to cause
illness relative to other pathogens.
Infants, young children, the sick and elderly generally have a lower
infective dose than an average adult. This means that they are most
at risk and more likely to die from water related diseases. Over 90%
of deaths from diarrheal diseases in developing countries occur in
children under 5 years old (WHO, 2007).
Dose of Microorganisms Needed to Produce Infection in Humans ID501
Disease

Pathogen

Type of Pathogen

Disease-Producing
Dose

Shigellosis

Shigella spp.

Bacteria

10 - 1000

Typhoid fever

Salmonella typhi

Bacteria

100,000

Cholera

Vibrio cholerae

Bacteria

100,000,000

(Adapted from Ryan et al., 2003)

1 Infective dose is the dose necessary to cause disease in 50% of the exposed individuals, hence ID50. These
numbers should be viewed with caution and cannot be directly used to assess risk since they are often
extrapolated from epidemiologic investigations, best estimates based on a limited data base from outbreaks,
worst case estimates, or other complex variables (US FDA).

77

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 6 Testing for Microbiological Contamination

6.4 Indicator Organisms


Testing for every pathogen in water would be both time consuming, complicated and
expensive. Alternatively, the presence or absence of certain bacterial indicator organisms is
used to determine the safety of the water. The use of bacteria as indicators dates back to
1885 where they were used in the first routine bacteriological examination of water quality in
London, England (WHO, nd). Since then indicator tests have been found to be cheaper,
easier to perform and yield faster results, compared to direct pathogen testing.
Indicator organisms should ideally possess the following characteristics:

Present whenever pathogens are present


Present in the same or higher numbers than pathogens
Specific for fecal or sewage pollution
At least as resistant as pathogens to conditions in natural water environments, and water
purification and disinfection processes
Non-pathogenic
Not reproduce in water
(WHO, nd).

There is no universal indicator to ensure that water is pathogen free, but there are several
types of indicators, each with certain characteristics. The choice of indicator depends on the
relationship between the indicator and pathogens. Coliform bacteria are most commonly
used as indicators because they exist in high ratios to pathogens making them easier to
detect in a water sample. However, some bacterial pathogens may exist in higher ratios than
the coliform indicators, such as Yersinia. Besides coliform indicators, fecal streptococci and
enterococci have also been proposed as indicators of fecal contamination of water.
Total coliforms, thermotolerant coliforms (also called fecal coliforms) and Escherichia coli
(more commonly referred to as E. coli) are the main indicator groups. As shown in the
following diagram, thermotolerant coliforms are a sub-type of total coliforms and E. coli is a
member of the thermotolerant group.

78

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 6 Testing for Microbiological Contamination

Heterotrophic Bacteria:
Most bacteria in nature,
includes all pathogens

Total Coliforms:
Presence in water may
indicate contamination
Thermotolerant Coliforms:
Found in intestines of
warm-blooded animals
E. coli:
Indicator of fecal
contamination

Important Note:
The presence of bacterial indicators does not always correlate with the presence of protozoa
or viruses in drinking water, and vice versa. There are many cases of waterborne disease
outbreaks in which the drinking water met all requirements for bacteriological water quality
(as well as process efficiency indicators and other water quality parameters).
(BCCDC Environmental Health Laboratory Services, 2006)

79

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 6 Testing for Microbiological Contamination

6.4.1 Total Coliforms


Total coliforms have been used as an indicator of drinking water since the early 1900s and
are commonly used in testing wastewater effluent (EPA, 2006). There is some debate
internationally about the public health significance of this bacterial indicator group in drinking
water since they are not specific indicators of fecal pollution. An understanding of the basic
definition of this group of bacteria, however, is important to assessing possible risks as poor
drinking water quality is associated with the presence of these organisms.
Originally, total coliforms included four groups of bacteria: Escherichia, Klebsiella,
Enterobacter and Citrobacter. These four groups are found in the feces of warm-blooded
animals, including humans. However, recent scientific evidence has shown that total
coliforms actually include a much broader grouping of bacteria than the four original groups.
In fact, to date there are now nineteen recognized groups of bacteria that fall under total
coliforms, of which only ten of these groups have actually been associated with feces.
Several environmental species included as total coliforms are associated with soil,
vegetation, or water sediments. Thus, not all total coliforms represent bacteria coming from
the feces. Recent research has also demonstrated that some groups of total coliforms that
are found in the feces of animals are also capable of replicating in nutrient rich
environments. This makes it difficult to assess whether the water in which total coliforms
were detected was contaminated with feces or not.
Overall, the total coliform group has become a less specific measure of public health risk. In
fact, the group violates the two basic criteria for a good indicator, these being the
requirement for the microorganism to only be associated with the feces of animals and to be
incapable of replicating in the environment.
(BCCDC Environmental Health Laboratory Services, 2006)
6.4.2 Thermotolerant (Fecal) Coliforms
Thermotolerant coliforms are a sub-group of the total coliform group. They used to be
commonly referred to as fecal coliforms since they are found in warm-blooded animals (i.e.
birds and mammals). Historically, fecal coliforms have been extensively used as bacterial
indicators of fecal contamination. Among the coliforms in human feces, 96.4% are fecal
coliforms. They are distinguished from total coliforms by their ability to grow at higher
o
o
temperatures (42 C - 44.5 C), a useful trait for the laboratory. When compared to the
presence of total coliforms, the presence of fecal coliforms in a water sample adds
significant weight to a possible health risk.
With respect to total coliforms, thermotolerant coliforms are a more specific indicator of fecal
contamination than total coliforms (EPA, 2006). More recently, E. coli has replaced
thermotolerant coliforms as the preferred indicator since it is a more specific indicator of
contamination by human or animal feces.
(Adapted from BCCDC Environmental Health Laboratory Services, 2006)

80

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 6 Testing for Microbiological Contamination

6.4.3 Escherichia coli (E. coli)


E. coli is the most important indicator used in drinking water quality testing and has been
used for over 50 years. It is a coliform bacteria found predominantly in the feces of warmblooded animals. The majority of E. coli is harmless; however there are some strains (such
as O157:H7) that are known to cause severe diarrhea and other symptoms.
Most thermotolerant coliforms are actually E. coli. A study showed that over 96% of a
thermotolerant (fecal) coliform sample was E. coli (Warren et al. 1978). It has similar
biochemical properties to the other coliforms and is distinguished by the presence of the
enzyme -glucuronidase and galactosidase. Many different water testing methods make use
of the presence of this enzyme for detection of E. coli in water samples. Over 95% of E. coli
tested to date possesses this enzyme. Of note, most strains of O157:H7 do not produce this
enzyme and is one of the very few that cannot be detected by -glucuronidase-based
methods. However, the likelihood that O157:H7 being the only E. coli strain present in a
fecally contaminated water sample is remote.
E. coli is to date one of the best indicators for fecal contamination. However, there is debate
over E. colis ability to survive and replicate outside the host, particularly in warmer tropical
climates. Recent studies have shown the capacity of E. coli to resist and grow in soils (Ishii
et al, 2006, Solo-Gabriel et al., 2000, Fujioka et al., 1999). Nevertheless high quantities of
E. coli will most probably indicate fecal contamination and hence the need for water source
protection and/or treatment.
6.4.4 Fecal Streptococci and Enterococci
Parallel to the research conducted on coliforms, a group of bacteria known as fecal
streptococci were also being investigated as important indicators. Enterococci are a subset
of the fecal streptococci group. Four key points in favour of the fecal streptococci were:

Relatively high numbers in the excreta of humans and other warm blooded animals
Presence in wastewater and known polluted waters
Absence from pure water and environments having no contact with human and animal
life
Persistence without multiplication in the environment
(WHO, 2001)

Fecal streptococci and enterococci are generally absent from pure, unpolluted waters having
no contact with human and animal life, with the exception being growth in soil and on plants
in tropical climates. Thus for water quality purposes, they can be regarded as indicators of
fecal pollution, although some could originate from other habitats, making them less reliable
than E. coli as an indicator. They are also not as good a fecal indicator when pathogenic
protozoa are present (US EPA, 2006).
CAWST recommends that E. coli be used as the indicator organism for
microbiological testing.

81

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 6 Testing for Microbiological Contamination

Microbiological Indicators Excreted in the Feces of Warm Blooded Animals


(average numbers per gram wet weight)
Groups

Thermotolerant Coliforms

Fecal Streptococci

1,300,000

3,400,000

Cow

230,000

1,300,000

Duck

33,000,000

54,000,000

Horse

12,600

6,300,000

Pig

3,300,300

84,000,000

Sheep

16,000,000

38,000,000

Turkey

290,000

2,800,000

Cat

7,900,000

27,000,000

Dog

23,000,000

980,000,000

Humans

13,000,000

3,000,000

Farm Animals
Chicken

Domestic Pets

(Adapted from WHO, 2001)

Important Note:
Bacterial indicators, such as E. coli, are not intended to be absolute indicators for the
presence of pathogens. Rather the presence of these bacterial indicators in a water sample
is consistent with the fact that the water was likely contaminated with feces and at a higher
risk for causing disease.
Fecally contaminated water may or may not have pathogenic microorganisms in it.
Consequently, drinking bacterially-contaminated water may or may not cause disease. The
concept of using bacteria as indicators of water quality and public health safety is based on
risk by association.
(BCCDC Environmental Health Laboratory Services, 2006)

82

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 6 Testing for Microbiological Contamination

6.5 Test Methods


There are three main testing methods to determine the presence of bacteria in water:

Presence/Absence (P-A)
Most Probable Number (MPN)
Membrane Filtration

Traditionally, membrane filtration using international standardized methods was


recommended to measure indicator bacteria in drinking water. This method requires trained
technicians, equipment and other supporting materials available only in a laboratory or the
use of a field analysis kit. The relatively high cost of laboratory testing makes it difficult,
impractical or impossible to perform these tests in many parts of the world. The resources
and infrastructure are simply not available to allow for routine testing of drinking water using
internationally standardized methods.
These constraints highlighted the great need for a rapid, simple, inexpensive test methods.
This need is especially great for small community and household water supplies that lack
access to and can not afford conventional laboratory testing. On-site testing using portable
equipment and the development of alternative and simplified testing methods, such as P-A
or MPN tests, have contributed to overcoming these constraints (Adapted from WHO, 2002).
Different products for each of the test methods are now widespread and commercially
available. Appendix 1 provides commercial equipment and product information.
The following sections present the different test methods, outline how they are conducted,
and discuss the advantages and limitations for each method.

Important Note:
Results from one test methods are not directly comparable to another (e.g. MPN versus
membrane filtration). Different types of test methods have different sensitivities for bacteria
indicators. Although these tests are intended to target the same group of bacteria (i.e. total
coliforms), their functionality is based on specific biochemical properties of the indicator
bacteria. One method will, for example, detect more total coliforms than another.
(Adapted from BCCDC Environmental Health Laboratory Services, 2006)

83

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 6 Testing for Microbiological Contamination

6.5.1 Presence-Absence
Presence-absence (P-A) is a qualitative test that depends on a colour change to indicate the
presence of contamination. For this test, you simply mix the water sample (commonly 10 ml)
with a special culture media, and incubate the mixture according to the manufacturers
instructions. If the test turns out to be positive, meaning that the indicator bacteria is present,
the water sample will change to a specific colour.
The advantages of this method are that it is relatively inexpensive, quick and easy to use.
The main limitation is that it will only measure quality; the results do not indicate the type and
quantity of bacteria in the sample.

www.trafalgarscientific.co.uk

Summary of Presence-Absence Advantages and Limitations


Advantages

Simple to understand and use (requires


minimal training)
Achieves results rapidly (within 24 hours)
Some tests do not require many items of
equipment (such as chemicals, power
source, incubator etc.)
Portable and durable in the field
Inexpensive for a limited number of tests

Limitations

Only provides qualitative results; does


not indicate the type and quantity of
bacteria
Not recommended by WHO for the
analysis of surface water and untreated
small community supplies
Not able to determine the removal
efficiency and effectiveness of HWT
technologies

Important Note:
P-A testing is designed to be used in situations where the water is most likely not polluted
(i.e. the test result is negative) such as groundwater and community water supplies that are
treated and piped to peoples homes. P-A testing is therefore a rapid test to simply verify the
presence of coliform bacteria indicating fecal contamination of the water.

84

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 6 Testing for Microbiological Contamination

Quantitative testing techniques like membrane filtration is preferred where a significant


proportion of tests provide a positive reaction. If positive results are found using P-A testing,
the water sample should be re-tested using either MPN or membrane filtration to confirm the
level of contamination.
P-A testing is of limited use with respect to HWT technologies like the biosand filter or
ceramic filters. These technologies may not provide 100% efficiency for the removal of
bacteria, so there is a chance that P-A tests will turn positive when testing the filtered water.
This test will not indicate the level of contamination, despite the fact that it is improved
quality compared to the original water source, or help to determine the removal efficiency of
these technologies.
There is a number of commercially available P-A products. The traditional tests are based on
the principal that fecal bacteria produce hydrogen sulphide (H2S tests), more modern
techniques use nutrient-indicators (ONPG and MUG) which react with specific coliform
enzymes. The general process for using IDEXX Colilert is as follows:

A powdered reagent is added to a 10 ml sample


The sample is incubated at 35oC for 24 hours
The results are read: Colourless = negative, Yellow = total coliforms present,
Yellow/fluorescent = fecal coliforms present (tested with a UV lamp).

The hydrogen sulphide test (H2S) is a P-A test that has been used for two decades to detect
the presence of fecal pathogens. To check for the presence of H2S indicator bacteria in
water, a strip of test paper is added to a water sample. If the test paper turns black, it means
that H2S was produced, which in turn means that bacteria of fecal origin are present in the
water sample. This is based on the assumption that fecal bacteria are the only H2S
producing bacteria, which is not the case as sulphate-reducing bacteria (non-fecal origin)
and water source naturally rich in sulfides (this is particularly true in groundwater) will also
make the test turn positive (WHO, 2002). A level of caution is therefore required when using
H2S methods.
Example H2S Test Bottles

85

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 6 Testing for Microbiological Contamination

6.5.2 Most Probable Number


Most Probable Number (MPN) indicates the bacteria density that is most likely to be present
in the water sample. It is a statistical testing method based on the number of positive tubes
of a water sample. P-A testing can be adapted to quantitatively determine the levels of total
or fecal coliforms in a water sample.

Multiple tubes (10 ml each)

Multiple wells (1 ml each)

In the case of multiple tubes:

The water sample is dispensed into 10 tubes (each of 10 ml and containing the
liquid/powder/solid form reagent)
The samples are incubated at 35oC for 24 hours
The number of positive tubes out of 10 is recorded

The following table is used to determine the most probable number of coliform in the water
sample
MPN Index
Number of
Positive Tubes
MPN Index
(CFU/100 ml)

10

<1.1

1.1

2.2

3.6

5.1

6.9

9.2

12.0

16.1

23.0

>23

MPN has become a popular screening method for total coliforms and E. coli since it is
generally more sensitive than membrane filtration. It uses a lower incubation temperature,
35oC instead of 44.5oC, which is less stressful on the microorganisms.

86

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 6 Testing for Microbiological Contamination

Summary of MPN Advantages and Limitations


Advantages

Limitations

Provides quantitative results


Relatively simple to understand and use
(requires some training)
Relatively inexpensive for occasional
testing
Can be used with turbid water
More sensitive than membrane filtration

Requires more time for results (24 hours


to incubate samples)
More labour intensive than P-A testing
Requires some training
Requires more equipment than P-A
testing (e.g. power source, incubator,
pipettes)
Not practical if needing to test many
(>10) samples at a time

6.5.3 Membrane Filtration


Membrane filtration (MF) is the most accurate method to get an exact number of bacteria.
This method is highly reproducible and can be used to test relatively large sample volumes.
However, membrane filtration also has limitations, particularly when testing waters with high
turbidity or large numbers of non-coliform (background) bacteria. Turbidity caused by the
presence of algae or suspended particles may not let you test a sample volume sufficient to
produce significant results. Low coliform estimates may be caused by the presence of high
numbers of non-coliform bacteria or toxic metals or toxic organic compounds like phenols.
Summary of Membrane Filtration Advantages and Limitations
Advantages

Provides quantitative results


Most accurate method to get number of
bacteria; results obtained directly by
colony count
Many samples can be tested at once
Internationally recognized test methods

Limitations

More labour intensive than P-A or MPN


testing
More complicated to understand and
read results; requires more training
Requires more equipment than P-A and
MPN testing (e.g. power source,
incubator, pipettes, filter paper, Petri
dishes)
Less applicable to turbid waters
Cost of consumables is high in many
countries

87

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 6 Testing for Microbiological Contamination

In the membrane filtration method, a 100 ml water sample is vacuumed through a filter using
a small hand pump. After filtration, the bacteria remain on the filter paper which is then
placed in a Petri dish with a nutrient solution (also known as culture media, broth or agar).
The Petri dishes are placed in an incubator at a specific temperature and time which can
vary according the type of indicator bacteria and culture media (e.g. total coliforms are
incubated at 35oC and fecal coliforms are incubated at 44.5oC with some types of culture
media). After incubation, the bacteria colonies can be seen with the naked eye or using a
magnifying glass. The size and colour of the colonies depends on the type of bacteria and
culture media used.
Some water testing field kits provide membrane filtration equipment, such as the OxfamDelagua Kit and the Wagtech Potatest Kit.

Important Note:
Good laboratory technique is essential when accuracy is important for membrane filtration.
For reliable results, take care in sample collection and preservation, maintain a clean
laboratory or work surface, use proper sterilization practices, and control the temperature on
the incubator. See Section 3 Water Sampling and Quality Control for more details.

Filter Paper
There are different types of filter paper available in the market. The pore size is crucial to
retain different types of bacteria. A pore size of 0.45m is most commonly used.
Culture Media
Bacteria cannot be seen with the human eye. In order to observe them they are grown
under controlled conditions. Culture media are substances, in liquid, semi-solid or in solid
form, which contain nutrients intended to support the growth of bacteria. Different media are
used to grow different indicator bacteria.
In most cases, the culture media is placed in a Petri dish and bacteria are transferred to the
media. The Petri dish is then incubated so that the bacteria will replicate hundreds of
thousands of times and eventually appear on the Petri dish as concentric circles called
colonies (sing. colony). The number of colonies formed on the media is reported as colony
forming units (CFU) per unit of volume of the water sample (i.e. 100 ml), hence CFU/100ml.
Different culture media products have different storage requirements and shelf lives. Once
opened the media is exposed to contamination and should be stored safely. Be sure to
follow the manufacturers instructions on how to properly use the media.

88

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 6 Testing for Microbiological Contamination

Nutrient Pads

Nutrient Pads are prepared with


dehydrated broths in plastic Petri dishes.
They require rehydration with 2-3 ml of
distilled water in each Petri dish.
These Petri dishes cannot be reused.
Notes:
Nutrient pads are practical, since they
minimize contamination and there is no
preparation required
They can be expensive for many tests
and are bulky for transport

Broths and Agars

Broths can be found in powder form


(requires preparation with distilled water) or
liquid form (no preparation needed).
Agars are broths in a gel form. They need
to be prepared by mixing the agar powder
with water and heating. When the
temperature has reduced to 40-50C, but the
media is still liquid, it is poured into Petri
dishes. It will become a semi-solid gel at
room temperature.
Notes:
Liquid broths dont require preparation
Powder broths are generally the most
economical for over 200 tests
Powders dont require strict storage but
liquid broths need to be refrigerated
Agars require taller Petri dishes and
need to be prepared in advance.
Pre-poured Agar plates can also be
purchased but tend to be the most
costly.

Different products have different storage requirements and shelf lives. Once opened the
media is exposed to contamination and should be stored safely. Be sure to follow the
manufacturers instructions.
Appendix 1 contains a list of culture media products and their suppliers.
Appendix 8 provides a table with the most commonly used culture media and their
specifications.

89

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 6 Testing for Microbiological Contamination

Colony Counting Techniques


After incubation, you need to remove the Petri dishes and count the colonies. You will count
all colonies of a certain colour, depending on the indicator bacteria and the media used.
Colonies may vary considerably in size. Generally, where there are a large number of
colonies, they are smaller in diameter. Where colonies are fewer, they tend to be larger. This
is because the colonies compete for nutrients and will grow larger when there is no
competition.
Use the horizontal grid lines on the filter paper to help count large numbers of colonies.
Examine and count all colonies with the particular colour you are looking for. Colonies shown
in every grid square are to be counted. Go from top to bottom and left to right until all grid
squares are covered.

Method for Counting Colonies Using a Grid











Count top to bottom by


rows along grid lines

Count top to bottom by


columns along grid lines

You will report the number of colony forming units (CFU) per 100 ml of water sample. It is
difficult to count more than 100 colonies. Petri dishes with more than 250 colonies can be
reported as too numerous to count (TNTC). Some colonies may overlap thus creating
counting errors. Dilutions can be made to avoid this. See Section 3.5 for instructions on how
to dilute your water sample.
Most culture media manufacturers provide an info sheet or troubleshooting guide which can
help you in the counting process and identifying colonies.

90

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 6 Testing for Microbiological Contamination

The following are examples of different indicator bacteria colonies:

Thermotolerant (fecal) coliforms colonies


appear as purple dots and total coliforms
as pink dots using Coliscan broth.

E. coli colonies appear as blue dots using


m-Coliblue broth. The red dots indicate total
coliform colonies.

When testing for both total and fecal coliforms (or E. coli), remember that the total
coliform count must include the fecal coliform (or E. coli) colonies. For example with
m-ColiBlue broth, if you count 10 red colonies and 5 blue colonies (E. coli), then the total
coliform count is 15, not 10, as E.coli is also part of the total coliform group.
Safe Waste Disposal
Bacterial cultures must be disposed of safely and properly as each colony is made up of
millions of individual bacteria. Contaminated material, such as used Petri dishes, pads and
filter paper, must be disinfected before disposal. This can be accomplished by using a
chlorine solution. Use one of the following options:
1. Add liquid chlorine to each Petri dish until full, allow 10 to 15 minutes contact time with
the bleach, pour the liquid down the drain, dispose of the test containers in the normal
waste
2. Or, place the Petri dishes, pads and filter paper into boiling water and heat for at least 30
minutes (Oxfam-DelAgua WaterTesting Kit-User Manual, nd). You may wish to do this
outside as the smell may become uncomfortable.
3. Or, place Petri dishes, pads and filter paper open into a bucket which contains at least a
quarter glass full of bleach (~70 ml) mixed with 2 litres of water. Allow at least 1 hour
contact time, then dispose of the pads and membranes and boil the Petri dishes to fully
disinfect and to wash off the bleach.
Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap after handling the contaminated waste and
before touching the disinfected Petri dishes.

91

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 6 Testing for Microbiological Contamination

6.6 Interpreting Test Results


It is extremely important that sampling and testing be as precise and accurate as possible,
so that the end results can be interpreted correctly.
The results are based on the data recorded during the testing process. The use of a data
recording form allows you to easily manage the data and helps you be as accurate as
possible. See Appendix 7 for an example recording form.
Recall that there is no universal indicator to ensure that water is pathogen free, but there are
several different types, each with certain characteristics. The choice of indicator depends on
the relationship between the indicator and bacteria. Coliform indicators are most commonly
used because they exist in high ratios to pathogens making them easier to detect in a water
sample.
It should also be noted that a single negative sample is not necessarily indicative of unsafe
water. Only a trend of data can be used to confirm the water quality. If the second sample
does not contain E. coli or other indicator bacteria, a third sample should be collected. If the
third sample contains E. coli or other bacteria, the user should be advised to treat their
drinking water.

Interpretation of Presence/Absence Results:


If positive results are found using P-A testing, the water sample should be re-tested using
MPN or membrane filtration to confirm the level of contamination. The WHO does not
recommend P-A testing for the quantitative analysis of surface water, untreated small
community supplies, or large supplies that may experience occasional operation and
maintenance problems.
P-A testing is of limited use with respect to HWT technologies like the biosand filter or
ceramic filters. Since these technologies do not provide 100% efficiency for the removal of
bacteria, there is a chance that P-A tests will turn positive when testing filtered water. This
test will not indicate the level of contamination, despite the fact that it is improved quality
compared to the original water source, or help to determine the removal efficiency of these
technologies.
Interpretation of Most Probable Number Results:
The results from MPN tests give you the most probable number of CFU per 100 ml. Based
on the different types of MPN tests (Idexx-Quanti Tray, ColiPlate-400 or the simple 10 tube
test) different indexes are statistically calculated. It is important to determine the index that
coincides with the test used for correct quantification of results. Refer to the WHO table
below to determine the risk and recommended action based on the CFU/100 ml results.

92

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 6 Testing for Microbiological Contamination

Interpretation of Membrane Filtration Results:


The results you are interested in from the membrane filtration show the number of E. coli
colony forming units in a 100 ml water sample. In the case of the household water treatment
project, a comparison can be made between the source water, treated water and stored
water after treatment.
According to the WHO, the risk of fecal pollution using E. coli as an indicator is shown in the
following table. Many relief agencies also use these values to determine when water
treatment is required in emergency situations (adapted from Mdecins Sans Frontires,
1994).
Fecal Pollution and its Associated Risk
E. coli level
(CFU/100 ml sample)

Risk

0-10

Reasonable quality

Water may be consumed as it is

Polluted

Treat if possible, but may be consumed as it is

Dangerous

Must be treated

Very Dangerous

Rejected or must be treated thoroughly

11-100
101-1000
> 1000

Recommended Action

( WHO,1997, Harvey, 2007)

93

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 6 Testing for Microbiological Contamination

6.7 Summary of Key Points


The WHO Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality recommends that all water intended for

drinking should have no fecal contamination in any 100 ml sample. However, many
countries have developed their own water quality standards which may differ from the
WHO Guidelines.
According to the WHO, the risk of fecal pollution using E. coli as an indicator is shown in

the following table. Many relief agencies also use these values to determine when water
treatment is required in emergency situations (adapted from Mdecins Sans Frontires,
1994).

Testing for every conceivable pathogen in water would be both time consuming,
complicated and expensive. Alternatively, the presence or absence of certain bacterial
indicator organisms is used to determine the safety of the water. The most commonly
used indicator for fecal contamination is E. coli.
There are three main testing methods to determine the presence of bacteria in water:
Presence/Absence (P-A), Most Probable Number (MPN) and Membrane Filtration (MF).
The choice of method will depend on many factors including the nature of the source(s)
being tested, the frequency and extent of the testing program, the resources available
and the purpose/objective of the testing.

Different products for each of the methods are now widespread and commercially
available. Appendix 1 provides commercial equipment and product information.

P-A testing is of limited use with respect to HWT technologies like the biosand filter or
ceramic filters. Since these technologies do not provide 100% efficiency for the removal
of bacteria, there is a chance that P-A tests will always turn positive when testing filtered
water. This test will not indicate the level of contamination, despite the fact that it is
improved quality compared to the original water source, or help to determine the removal
efficiency of these technologies.

94

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 6 Testing for Microbiological Contamination

6.8 References
Aliev S., Shodmonov P., Babakhanova N. and O. Schmoll (2006). Rapid Assessment of
Drinking Water Quality in the Republic of Tajikistan, Country Report, Ministry of Health of the
Republican of Tajikistan. Available at: www.untj.org/files/reports/RADWQ.pdf
Baker D.L. and W.F. Duke (2006). Intermittent Slow Sand Filters for Household Use -A Field
Study in Haiti, IWA Publishing, London, UK.
BCCDC Environmental Health Laboratory Services (2006). Safe Drinking Water: Public
Health Laboratory Surveillance Update. British Columbia, Canada. Available at:
www.vch.ca/environmental/docs/water/safe_drinking_water.pdf
Bartram J. and R. Balance (edited) WHO (1996). Water Quality Monitoring: A Practical
Guide to the Design and Implementation of Freshwater Quality Studies and Monitoring
Programmes, Published on behalf of United Nations Environment Programme and the World
Health Organization and UNDP. Available at:
www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/resourcesquality/wqmonitor/en/
Geldreich, E.E. (1978). Bacterial Populations and indicator concepts in feces, sewage,
stormwater and solid wastes. In indicator of microbial water quality, WHO, 2001 pp.297.
Available at: www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/dwq/iwachap13.pdf
Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, A Water Quality Task Group (2006). A
Canada-wide Framework for Water Quality Monitoring. Available at:
www.ccme.ca/assets/pdf/wqm_framework_1.0_e_web.pdf
Fujioka, R., C. Sian-Denton, M. Borja, J. Castro, and K. Morphew (1999). Soil: the
environmental source of Escherichia coli and enterococci in Guam's streams. J. Appl.
Microbiol. Symp. Suppl. 85:83S-89S
Harvey, P. (2007). Well Factsheet: Field Water Quality Testing in Emergencies. Water,
Engineering and Development Centre, Loughborough University, United Kingdom. Available
at: www.lboro.ac.uk/orgs/well/resources/fact-sheets/fact-sheets
htm/WQ%20in%20emergencies.htm
Howard A.G. (2002). Water Quality Surveillance: A practical guide. WEDC, Loughborough
University, UK. Available at: www.lboro.ac.uk/wedc/watermark/practical-guide/wqsinsides.pdf
Ishii, S., W.B. Ksoll, R.E. Hicks, and M.J. Sadowsky (2006). Presence and growth of
naturalized Escherichia coli in temperate soils from Lake Superior watersheds. Appl.
Environ. Microbiol. 72 :612621
Mdecins Sans Frontires (1994). Public Health Engineering in Emergency Situations, Paris.
Solo-Gabriele H.M., Wolfert M.A., Desmarais T.R. and C.J. Palmer (2000). Sources of
Escherichia coli in a coastal subtropical environment. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2000.66(1)

95

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 6 Testing for Microbiological Contamination

United Nations Development Programme (2006). Human Development Report 2006. Beyond
scarcity: Power, poverty and the global water crisis. Available at:
http://hdr.undp.org/hdr2006/
US Environment Protection Agency (2006). Distribution System Indicators of Drinking Water
Quality. Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water, Standards and Risk Management
Division, Washington DC, USA. Available at:
www.epa.gov/safewater/disinfection/tcr/pdfs/issuepaper_tcr_indicators.pdf
United States Geological Service (2003). Sample Collection Preservation and Storage.
Available at: http://water.usgs.gov/owq/FieldManual/Chapter7-Archive/Chapter7.1/7.1.2.html
University of Surrey (n.d.) Oxfam-DelAgua Water Testing Kit Manual. Robens Centre for
Public and Environmental Health, UK. Available at: www.recpeh.com
Warren, L. S., R. E. Benoit, and J. A. Jessee (1978). Rapid Enumeration of Fecal
Coliforms in Water by a Colorimetric -Galactosidase Assay. Applied and Environmental
Microbiology 35(1):136-141.
World Health Organization (1997). Guideline for Drinking Water Quality 2nd Edition, Volume
3, Surveillance and Control of Community Supplies, Geneva. Available at:
www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/dwq/gdwqvol32ed.pdf
World Health Organization (2001). Water Quality: Guidelines, Standards and Health. Edited
by Lorna Fewtrell and Jamie Bartram. IWA Publishing, London, UK. Available at:
www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/dwq/whoiwa/en/index.html
World Health Organization (2002). Evaluation of the H2S Method for Detection of Fecal
Contamination of Drinking Water. Prepared by M. Sobsey and F. Pfaender, Department of
Environmental Sciences and Engineering, School of Public Health, University of North
Carolina, USA. Available at: www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/dwq/WSH02.08.pdf
World Health Organization (2004). Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Links to Health: Facts and
Figures. Website: www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/publications/facts2004/en/
World Health Organization (2006). Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality, Third Edition.
Website: www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/dwq/gdwq3rev/en/index.html
World Health Organization (2007). Cholera. Website:
www.who.int/topics/cholera/about/en/index.html
World Health Organization (2009a). Typhoid Fever in Diarrheal Diseases.
Available at: http://www.who.int/vaccine_research/diseases/diarrheal/en/index7.html
World Health Organization (2009b). Malaria Fact Sheet.
Available at:http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs094/en/index.html
World Health Organization (n.d). Microbiological Aspects, WHO Seminar Pack for Drinking
Water Quality. Available at: www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/dwq/S03.pdf

96

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 6 Testing for Microbiological Contamination

World Health Organization and UNICEF (2005). WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme
for Water Supply and Sanitation. Water for Life: Making it Happen. Website:
www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/monitoring/jmp2005/en/index.html

97

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 6 Testing for Microbiological Contamination

Assignment: Self Assessment


1. What are the characteristics that a bacterial indicator should have?

2. a) What are thermotolerant coliforms?

b) High quantities of E. coli will most probably indicate what?

3. List and describe the 3 main microbiological testing methods.

4. a) How do you interpret the result, if your E. coli test result shows 9 CFU/100 ml sample?

b) How do you interpret the result if your E. coli test shows more than 100 CFU/100 ml
sample?

c) How do you interpret your test result if it shows turbidity at 10-20 NTUs and an E. coli level
of 9 CFU/100 ml sample?

Answers:
Question 1 (See Section 6.4)
Question 2a (See Section 6.4.2)
Question 2b (See Section 6.4.3)
Question 3 (See Section 6.5)
Question 4 (See Section 6.6)

98

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 7 Interpreting Test Results

7 Interpreting Test Results


Data interpretation allows you to learn from the water quality test results, helps you improve
your sampling program, and is really the reason you collected the data in the first place. You
will need to take a good look at the numbers and try to make sense of them to develop your
final conclusions and recommendations. Besides providing a report of the analysis for given
contaminants, most water testing laboratories or portable test kits provide little explanation of
the test results. The information provided in this section will help you understand and
interpret physical, chemical and biological test results.
Although we have separated physical, chemical and biological tests, it is useful to compare
the results to determine any correlations.
There are three basic approaches for interpreting data generated from water quality tests:
1. The measured values of physical, chemical and biological contaminants can be compared
to national water quality standards or the WHO Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality.
2. Data records can be reviewed to see how they change over time and location to identify
any trends or correlations.
3. Scientific analysis can be done for academic purposes and scientific research.

99

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 7 Interpreting Test Results

7.1 Steps for Data Interpretation

1. Collect data for analysis

Assemble data from the water quality


testing.
Enter the data in the suitable table,
spreadsheet or database.

2. Check that data entered on


the data recording forms are
complete and accurate

3. Choose appropriate
statistical analysis

3.1 Trend
analysis,
changes in
space and
time

3.2 Compare
data to
national
standards or
WHO
Guidelines

3.3 Scientific
analysis i.e.
technology
verification

4. Interpret data in relation to


project objectives

5. Report results.
Advise Community Health
Promoters and Product
Manufacturers as necessary

Deal with unusual readings. i.e. if


some results are unusual, it would be a
good idea to re-test . For example, if
number of E-coli is higher in the filtered
water compared to inlet water, it would
be good to retake samples on different
days and times.
Data analyses methods should be
selected in advance, and there should
be sufficient data to run the analysis.
Results should be recorded in a simple
format. The end users have to be able
to understand the results.
Interpret the results so they are
meaningful to the project objectives
and situation of the local context.
When generating results, keep in mind
the quality control and reliability of the
testing process.
Develop conclusions and
recommendations. Report the results.

(Adapted from Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, 2006)


7.1.1 Collect Data Recording Forms
Data recording forms are used to document your samples and test results. See Appendix 5
for an example data recording form. Many forms may be used, depending on how many
samples are taken and the number of tests performed, so it is important to choose the
correct forms for data entry. It is essential to collect all data forms and to verify the
information and results for each day before preparing a database.

100

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 7 Interpreting Test Results

7.1.2 Check the Data Record Forms


The data record forms need to be checked thoroughly to ensure that all information was
recorded clearly and completely. If any data is missing or incomplete, another sample should
be taken and/or the test should be repeated to get accurate and complete information. The
most common errors are transcription mistakes, such as are incorrect positioning of the
decimal point or recording data for a different sample.
If there are any unusual test results, another sample should be taken and the test should be
repeated. For example, if the results are far out of the expected or possible range, the test
should be done again as there may be problems with equipment calibration, expired test
strips or broths or the simply the data was not properly encoded. Refer back to Section 3 on
quality control which explains how to limit such errors.
7.1.3 Choose an Appropriate Analysis
The selection of data analysis and graphic presentation is based on the following types of
testing.

Trend and Correlation Analysis

Trend analysis shows how a physical, chemical or biological parameter changes with time
and location. Graphing is an excellent way to display your data, and is very helpful when you
are analyzing trends and correlations. There are many kinds of graphs, and you are
encouraged to be creative in finding different ways of looking at data.
Time-history graphs can illustrate changes in water quality over a period of time (i.e. in hours,
days, months, or years). For example, the following graph shows that average E.coli
numbers were gradually reducing till May and is increasing trend on June and onward.
Average Number of E. coli

60
50
40
30
20
10
0
Jan-08

Feb-08

Mar-08

Apr-08

May-08

Jun-08

Jul-08

Aug-08

101

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 7 Interpreting Test Results

A spatial graph can be used to show how water quality varies according to the sampling
locations. The following graph shows that the source water and transfer bucket water both
have E. coli contamination, but the transfer bucket water has higher levels, probably due to
secondary contamination. The filtered water is good in terms of water quality; however the
results show that there is a recontamination problem in the storage water.

Average E.coli per Sample Point

Risk of Water Contamination


250
202
200
150
100

98

50

23
1

0
Source water
(n=87)

Transfer Bucket
(n=107)

Filter Spout
(n=106)

Storage (n=107)

Sample Points

(Duke et al., 2006)


A correlation graph can be used to see if there is a relationship between two different
parameters. For example, the following graph shows the correlation between E. coli counts
and turbidity in a river. The graph shows that the higher the turbidity, the higher the levels of
E. coli in the water.

102

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 7 Interpreting Test Results

Comparison Analysis

A comparison analysis is usually carried out to determine the existing situation compared
with national standards or WHO Guidelines. This type of analysis is useful to compare the
effectiveness of technology between different locations or user groups, such as high,
medium and low-income households.

Scientific Analysis

Scientific analysis can be done for academic purposes and scientific research. Water testing
processes should be very comprehensive with a high number of tests that are repeated more
than once. The results should be verified by statistical inferences such as confidence level,
standard of error and t-test. This type of analysis focuses on high precision in the
methodology.
The method of data analyses should be selected in advance to get a sufficient number of test
results for the statistical analysis. In general 30 units (e.g. 30 filters, 30 households) are
necessary for a statistical analysis.
The type of statistical analysis should meet the needs of the audience who will be reviewing
the results. If a water quality test is carried out upon the request of end users, statistical
analysis should be simple and the results should be self explanatory. Statistical measures
including percentage, frequency and average are better understood and can be graphed.
Software is available to process numerical data and perform statistical tests. Spreadsheets,
such as Microsoft Excel, can also have powerful graphical and statistical capability.
7.1.4 Interpret Data in Relation to the Objectives
The objectives of the project and the water quality testing program need to be kept in mind
when you are interpreting your test results. Different objectives will result in different
interpretations of the data. The following are some examples of objectives for water quality
testing:

Assess the effectiveness of a HWT technology in reducing turbidity and bacteria


Assess the concentration of arsenic and fluoride in the source and treated water
Assess the effectiveness of a HWT technology in the removal of physical, biological and
chemical contaminants to prepare policy guidelines
Assess the effectiveness of a HWT technology in the removal of chemical contaminants
to prepare national guidelines for drinking water quality

Project implementers often carry out water quality testing to bring awareness in the
community about the difference between contaminated water and treated water. In such
situations, results may be presented immediately to the community without complete
interpretation of the overall data. This situation can sometimes backfire if you generate a
negative test result in front of the community without the ability to explain the result or
perform any quality control to verify the test. This can easily create a negative impression
about the project implementation and should be avoided if possible. If it is necessary to
distribute early results, it is important to emphasize that they are incomplete and full results
will be available after the data has been interpreted.

103

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 7 Interpreting Test Results

7.1.5 Report the Results


The primary purpose of a report is to share your results, conclusions and recommendations
to an audience. This information should be assembled in a well organized and easy to read
format. It is particularly important to include graphs and tables to help make the report easy
to understand.
Reports should be made as early as possible so that corrective actions can be taken to
ensure safe drinking water. It is also important to share the results with the users so that they
are aware of how to operate their HWT technology properly. Reporting the results also gives
feedback to improve the project implementation.

Important Note:
As drinking water quality is a sensitive topic, simply providing the testing results without
guidance and interpretation could lead to dangerous misinterpretations and inappropriate
action or inaction (especially if the report is disseminated outside of the organisation). Water
quality testing can be a great mobilisation tool as long as the results are interpreted and
presented properly.

Appendix 7 gives an example of a water quality testing report.

7.2 Interpreting Laboratory Reports


If you send your water to a laboratory for testing, they will send youre a report with the
results. Most laboratories provide little additional explanation of test results beyond the units
used or possibly a footnote in the event that a problem is identified.
A laboratory report will normally contain a table of possible contaminants and physical
characteristics for which your sample was tested, and the measured concentration of each.
If you have any problems understanding the way information is presented on the laboratory
report, you should contact the testing laboratory directly for explanation.

104

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 7 Interpreting Test Results

Northeast Environmental Laboratory Inc. (nd)

105

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 7 Interpreting Test Results

7.3 Summary of Key Points

There are three basic approaches for interpreting data generated from water quality tests:
1. The measured values of physical, chemical and biological contaminants can be
compared to national water quality standards or the WHO Guidelines for Drinking Water
Quality.
2. Data records can be reviewed to see how they change over time and location to
identify any trends or correlations.
3. Scientific analysis can be done for academic purposes and scientific research.

The following are the general steps for data interpretation:

o
o
o
o
o

Collect data recording forms


Check the data recording forms
Choose an appropriate analysis
Interpret data in relation to the objectives
Report the results

When producing a water quality testing report, be sure to consider:

o
o
o

The objectives of the testing


The audience for the report
The clarity of the report and interpretation of the results

106

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Section 7 Interpreting Test Results

7.4 References
Baker D.L. and W. F. Duke (2006).Intermittent Slow Sand Filters for Household Use -A Field
Study in Haiti, IWA Publishing, London, UK.
Bartram J. and R. Balance (edited) (1996). Water Quality Monitoring: A Practical Guide to the
Design and Implementation of Freshwater Quality Studies and Monitoring Programmes,
Published on behalf of United Nations Environment Programme and the World Health
Organization and UNDP. Available at:
www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/resourcesquality/wqmonitor/en/
Bauman, E.R. 1962. Should Small Water Supplies be Superchlorinated?, Part II. Water and
Sewage Works. (1):21-24.
Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, A Water Quality Task Group (2006). A
Canada-wide Framework for Water Quality Monitoring. Available at:
www.ccme.ca/assets/pdf/wqm_framework_1.0_e_web.pdf
Water Quality Standards and Interpretation (nd). Available at:
http://co.laplata.co.us/water_well_web/Standards.pdf

107

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 1 Equipment and Materials

Equipment and Materials


A.

PRODUCT INFORMATION SHEETS ......................................................................................... 2

1.

Field Kits ................................................................................................................ 2


1.1.

2.

Wagtech Potatest and Oxfam-Delagua Kits ..................................................... 2

Microbiological testing.......................................................................................... 3
2.1.

Membrane filtration .......................................................................................... 3

2.1.1.
2.1.2.
2.1.3.
2.1.4.

2.2.

ColiQuant MF ......................................................................................................... 3
Filter Units .............................................................................................................. 4
Membrane Filters, Absorbent pads ........................................................................ 5
Petri Dishes ............................................................................................................ 6

Incubation ........................................................................................................ 8

2.2.1.

Semi-portable incubators ....................................................................................... 8

2.3.

Culture media (broths and agars) for membrane filtration ................................ 9

2.4.

Presence-Absence (P-A) and Most Probable Number (MPN) ........................ 10

2.4.1.
2.4.2.

2.5.

Other Test Methods ....................................................................................... 12

2.5.1.

2.6.

P-A H2S Tests ...................................................................................................... 10


More specific P-A tests ........................................................................................ 11
3M Petrifilm .......................................................................................................... 12

Sampling........................................................................................................ 13

2.6.1.

13-oz. Whirl-Pak Bags....................................................................................... 13

3. Chemical and Physical testing ............................................................................... 14


2.7.

Test strips ...................................................................................................... 14

2.8.

Colorimeters and Photometers....................................................................... 15

2.8.1.
2.8.2.

2.9.

Wagtech Color comparator kit.............................................................................. 15


Hach Colorimeter DR/850 .................................................................................... 17

Parameter specific test kits ............................................................................ 18

2.9.1.
2.9.2.
2.9.3.

Arsenic ................................................................................................................. 18
Fluoride ................................................................................................................ 20
Chlorine & pH ....................................................................................................... 21

B.

COST OF EQUIPMENT AND CONSUMABLES ...................................................................... 22

C.

SUPPLIER CONTACT INFORMATION .................................................................................... 24

A1-1

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 1 Equipment and Materials

A. Product Information Sheets


1. Field Kits
1.1. Wagtech Potatest and Oxfam-Delagua Kits
Wagtech Potatest Kit

Wagtech International Wagtech Court


Station Road Thatcham Berkshire
RG19 4HZ - United Kingdom
Tel +44 (0) 1635 872929
export@wagtech.co.uk
www.wagtech.co.uk

Oxfam DelAgua Kit

Robens Centre for Public and


Environmental Health - University of Surrey
Guildford, GU2 5XH - United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 1483 689 209
Fax: +44 (0) 1483 689 971
sales@delagua.org
www.delagua.org

Test type:
E. coli, total coliforms using membrane filtration
Multiple physical and chemical parameters including pH, turbidity, chlorine
Flexible chemical testing options: comparator allows further testing of over 30 chemical
parameters if required (Wagtech only).
Cost: ~ US$2300-2500
Necessary Equipment:
Pressure cooker or portable sterilizer or access to an autoclave (e.g. in a hospital)
Methanol (approx 2 ml per test)
Distilled water
1 litre measuring cylinder or beaker
Lighter
Summary: The kit is designed for use in the field, but may also be used in a laboratory or
other permanent location. The kit can be supplied with a range of accessories that will
increase the scope of water quality monitoring programmes. Operating instructions detail all
the necessary procedures for a complete bacteriological analysis.

A1-2

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 1 Equipment and Materials

2. Microbiological Testing
2.1. Membrane filtration
Also see 1.1 Wagtech Potatest and Delagua Kits which provide membrane filtration

2.1.1. ColiQuant MF
Product Name: ColiQuant MF
Test type:
E. coli (fecal coliform) and enterobacter (non-fecal
coliform) using membrane filtration
Cost: 20 tests - $211.50 (~ $10.60 each), refill 20 tests $148.50 (~ $7.43 each)
Necessary Equipment:
Incubator
Filter apparatus, broth, filter paper, pad, calibrated dropper (included)
Bleach (for disposal)
Alcohol
Sterile dilution water (if needed)
Permanent marker
Summary: This product uses a Coliscan broth and is designed for the membrane filtration
procedure. Colour charts are included to make the interpretation easier and the manual
provides a variety of useful information.
Notes:
Filter apparatus, filter papers and pads are included
Filter papers and filter pads are reusable (microwave for 2 minutes )
Slow ordering process (approx. 8 weeks to arrive)
Disinfection of the apparatus is done with alcohol wipes (not by burning methanol) which
may leave some contamination
Expensive
Manufacturer Information:

Distributors:

Micrology Laboratories L.L.C.


info@micrologylabs.com
www.micrologylabs.com

ww.lamotte.com (USA)
www.anachemia.com (North America)
www.prolabmas.co.id (Indonesia)

A1-3

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 1 Equipment and Materials

2.1.2. Filter Units


Nalgene Analytical Filter Units

NALGENE Labware
www.nalgenelabware.com
International
Tel: +1 585-899-7198 E-mail:
intl@nalgenunc.com
Fax: +1 585-899-7195
North America
Tel: 1-800-625-4327 E-mail:
nnitech@nalgenunc.com
Fax: 585-586-8987
Europe
Tel: +44 (0) 5602 750996
E-mail: vibeke.rowell@thermofisher.com
Fax: +45 4631 2099

Wagtech Filters Holders

Wagtech International Ltd Wagtech


Court Station Road Thatcham
Berkshire RG19 4HZ
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 1635 872929
Fax: +44 (0) 1635 862898
E-mail: export@wagtech.co.uk
Website: www.wagtech.co.uk

Test type: Membrane filtration


Cost: ~ US$7 each (Nalgene)
Necessary Equipment:
Membrane filters
Plastic vacuum pump
Summary:
For use with 47 mm membranes

A1-4

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 1 Equipment and Materials

2.1.3. Membrane Filters, Absorbent pads


Membrane filters

Individually wrapped
Sometimes sold with absorbent pads
Also known as cellulose nitrate filters
or mix cellulose ester filters.
The most common size is 45mm
diameter (fits in standard filtration
equipment, such as Wagtech Potest,
Delagua Kits and Plastic filtration
units) and pore size 0.45 m for
typical bacteriological testing of total
and fecal coliforms.
Best to use white/gridded membrane
filters for drinking water quality
testing

Absorbent pads

Absorbent pads are required when


using liquid broths (not Agars).
They can be purchased:
o in plastic Petri dishes already
impregnated with dehydrated
broth or plain
o with membrane filters
o separately (usually sold with a
dispenser)

Test type: Membrane filtration


Cost:
Absorbent Pads and Membranes, ~ US$0.4 - $1 per pad and membrane
o Pack of 200, US$80 (Wagtech, UK)
o Pack of 100, US$112 (Millipore, USA)
Membranes filters, Pack of 600, US$246 (Millipore, USA)
Absorbent Pads, Pack of 30, ~US$7
Necessary Equipment:
Filters holder
Contact Information:
There are many suppliers of membrane filters and absorbent pads. The most commonly
known is Millipore (www.millipore.com) based in USA and Whatman (www.whatman.com)
based in the UK, both with regional offices and distributors

A1-5

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 1 Equipment and Materials

2.1.4. Petri Dishes

Disposable (polystyrene)
pre-sterilized Petri dishes
with absorbent pads.
See nutrient pads (above)
which also contain
dehydrated culture media on
the pad)

Disposable (polystyrene)
pre-sterilized Petri dishes. To
be used with agars or liquid
broths (require absorbent
pads)

Aluminum re-usable Petri


dishes. Require sterilization
before each use, and
absorbent pads. For liquid
broths. Not usually suitable
for agars.

Petri dishes come in various types:

Plastic (polystyrene, polypropylene) or aluminum


Re-usable (usually the polypropylene and aluminum) or disposable (polystyrene)
Some are sold with absorbent pads for direct use with liquid broths (nutrient media) or
are already impregnated with dehydrated liquid media.

Do not to reuse the polystyrene Petri dishes.


Test type: Membrane filtration
Cost: US$0.25-0.55 per dish (plastic), ~ US$2.70 per dish (aluminum)
Necessary Equipment:
Sterilizer (for the re-usable dishes)
Marker
Summary:
Widely used in microbiology, the standard-size polystyrene Petri dishes are presterilized
The plastic ones are generally stackable for ease of use.
Plastic dishes (50 to 55mm diameter by 9 to 12 mm height) tend to be taller than the
aluminum ones (50mm diameter by 8mm height)
Contact Information:
There are many suppliers worldwide for plastic Petri dishes. Re-usable (aluminum) Petri
dishes are more difficult to obtain. Try Wagtech and Delagua (see Section 1Field Kits).

A1-6

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 1 Equipment and Materials

A1-7

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 1 Equipment and Materials

2.2. Incubation
2.2.1. Semi-portable incubators
Hova-Bator Egg Incubator

Wagtech
Portable Incubator

Hach Portable Incubator

Cost: ~US$50

Cost: Email Wagtech

Cost: ~ US$1000

Benefits:
Very economical
Easy to use.
Large incubation space
(~ 40 Petri dishes)

Benefits:
Rechargeable (battery
operated)
2 temperature settings
Maintains temperature
within 0.5C
Limitations:
Limited incubation
space (16 aluminum/10
plastic Petri dishes)

Benefits:
Battery pack optional
+ US$200)
Plugs in cigarette
lighter
Variable temperature
settings (30 50C)
Maintains temperature
within 0.5C
Large incubation area
(~ 40 Petri dishes)

(Supplied with the Wagtech


Potatest Field Kit)

Limitations:
More expensive

Limitations:
No thermostat
Air flow can dry up Petri
dishes
Require calibration
check before each use
Will not work with
sensitive culture media
www.gqfmfg.com

www.hach.com

For international suppliers


(Middle East, Brazil, Chile,
Europe, Australia) see
www.gqfmfg.com/store/inter
national.asp

For international suppliers


see www.hach-lange.com

A1-8

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 1 Equipment and Materials

2.3. Culture media (broths and agars) for membrane filtration


Summary:
Culture media can come in different forms:
o Dehydrated media in powder form
o Prepared media broths in glass or plastic bottles (20 to 100 ml) or 2 ml
ampoules
o Pre-poured agar plates
o Nutrient Pad Sets (Petri dishes with pre-impregnated dehydrated pads)
Refer to Appendix 8 Culture Media for more detailed information on the products
Culture Media
m-Lauryl sulphate
(MLSB)

Type
Broth
Nutri-Pad

Suitable for
Indicators*
TC

FC

Form / Container

m-Endo

Broth
Agar
Nutri-Pad

m-FC

Broth
Agar
Nutri-Pad

Notes

Cost

E. coli

Powder (38.1g
or 500g)
Dehydrated
pads

Most
economical
broth
More difficult to
read

~ US$100 for 38.1g


tub (250 tests)
~ US$75 for 500g
tub (3280 tests)
US$0.4/test

Powder,
Dehydrated
pads
Prepared (2 ml
ampoules, 100
ml bottles)
Agar plates

~ US$57 for 50pk of


2mL ampoules
(HACH) $1.15/test
~ US$60 for 100mL
bottle (Anachemia)
$1.2/test
~ US$10/agar plate
(Anachemia)

Powder
Dehydrated
pads
Ampoules (2 ml)

~ US$20 for 20pk of


2mL ampoules
(HACH) $1 per test
(Same prices as mEndo from
Anachemia)
~US$65 for 15pk
agar plates (HACH),
$4.30/test

Modified m-TEC

Agar

Powder
Prepoured agar
plates

m-ColiBlue24

Broth
Agar

Prepare (2 ml
ampoules, 100
ml glass bottle)
Agar plates

Easy to read

~US$50 for 100mL


bottle (50 tests)
~US$35 for 20pk
glass ampoules
US$1.0-1.5/test

Liquid (20 ml
plastic bottles)
frozen

Easy to read

~ US$10 for one


bottle (20 tests)
$0.5/test

Coliscan MF

Broth
Agar

* TC Total Coliforms, FC Thermotolerant (Fecal) coliforms,

A1-9

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 1 Equipment and Materials

2.4. Presence-Absence (P-A) and Most Probable Number (MPN)


2.4.1. P-A H2S Tests
ENPHO Coliform Presence-Absence Test

Cost: Rs45.00 per bottle ( ~ US$0.40/test)


Contact Information:
ENPHO
110/25 Adarsa Marga-1, Thapagaon,
New Baneshwor
Email: enpho@mail.com.np

HACH Pathoscreen

Cost:
US$38 for the kit (100 tests) ~ US$0.4/test
Includes 100 reagent pillows, 100 sterile 20
ml sample bottles and case.
Extra 50 pillows for 100mL tests ~ US$40
Extra 50 pillows for 20mL tests ~ US$30
(both extras require purchase of sterile
bottles)
Contact Information:
HACH
www.hach.com
With various distributors worldwide
http://www.hach.com/global-distributorsupport

Test type: Fecal coliform (H2S producing bacteria)


Necessary Equipment:
Incubator
Permanent marker
Summary: Coliform presence/absence test kit is used to detect the bacterial contamination
of drinking water. Can also be used in MPN format (5 to 10 bottles per test). Test can take
up to 48 hours to complete.
Notes:
Easy to use and to read
Will turn positive for all H2S producing bacteria which produce within 24 hours
Positive reactions within 1 hour of incubation may come from sulphide rich water (false
positive)
Avoid using with groundwater as high possibility of naturally occurring sulphides

A1-10

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 1 Equipment and Materials

2.4.2. More specific P-A tests


IDEXX Colilert

HACH Presence-Absence

Test type: Coliforms and E. coli (presence/


absence)

Test type: Coliforms and E. coli (presence/


absence)

Cost: package of 20 tests- US$186 (~$9.30


each). This price includes shrink band
containers which are usually purchased
separately.
Colilert reagent for 100 ml tests costs
US$5.4/reagent (US$1080 for a pack of 200)
Containers of 120 ml costs
US$0.80/container (US$205 for 200)

Cost: package of 50 tests - US$192 (~$3.84


each)
Incubation: 24-48 hours at 35 oC
Contact Information:
HACH
www.hach.com

Incubation: 24 hours at 35 oC
Contact Information:
IDEXX
Tel: 1-800-321-0207
Website: www.idexx.com/water
Summary:
The water sample is poured in a 20 ml or 100 ml sterile container, the reagent (powder) is
then poured (IDEXX) or already contained in the vessel (HACH). These tests detect 1 CFU/
100 ml. A positive coliform result will show a colour change from clear to yellow, and a
positive E. coli result will show fluorescence under a UV long wavelength lamp. IDEXX and
HACH w/ MUG P-A tests use the MUG reagent which produces a fluorogenic product
(fluorescent) when it reacts with an enzyme specific to E. coli.
Necessary Equipment:
Incubator
UV long wavelength lamp
Graduated cylinder
Bleach (for disposal)
Comparator colour guide
Permanent marker

Notes:
Easy to use
More specific than H2S tests
Significant amount of waste generated

A1-11

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 1 Equipment and Materials

2.5. Other Test Methods


2.5.1. 3M Petrifilm
Product Name: Petrifilm
Test type: E. coli, total coliforms. Petrifilms are also
available for a variety of other contaminants.
Cost:
50 plates $100 (~ $2 each)
500 plates $736.00 (~ $1.50 each)
Necessary Equipment:
Pipette or calibrated dropper
Incubator
Bleach (for disposal)
Permanent marker
Filter apparatus and filter paper (optional)
Summary:
There are two procedures for water testing using Petrifilm, but neither are approved
international methods. The first procedure recommends the water be filtered through a
cellulose acetate filter and the filter be placed on the Petrifilm. This would allow a 100 ml
sample to be tested. The filter paper is not included. For this procedure the gel needs to be
prepared ahead of time adding a few extra hours on to the procedure time. If the water
sample was really contaminated it could be a challenge to count all the bacteria colonies
and the sample may have to be diluted.
The second procedure (used by Robert Metcalf) tests a 1 ml sample by placing the sample
directly on the Petrifilm. This procedure does not require that the gel be prepared ahead of
time. The challenge with this procedure is that sample size is very small and discrepancy is
very likely. With any sample larger than 1 ml the water leaks off the film.
Notes:
Not an approved international test method
Easy to use and to easy to transport (light and small)
No filtering apparatus required
Broth is non-toxic, can incubate with body heat
Contact Information:
For suppliers: www.3m.com
For specific product information: www.3m.com/product/information/Petrifilm-Plate.html

A1-12

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 1 Equipment and Materials

2.6. Sampling
2.6.1. 13-oz. Whirl-Pak Bags

Product Name: 13-oz. Whirl-Pak Bags


Test type: Sampling
Cost: 10 - 19: $63.29; 20 - 49: $60.71; 50 or more:
$58.04
Necessary Equipment:
Permanent marker

Summary:
The 384 ml capacity is measured when the bag is closed and tab is folded over three times.
Volume and dimensions are approximate; bags should not be used at temperatures above 82 C.
Bags can be frozen to any temperature careful handling required after freezing. All bags are
sterilized after manufacturing.
Notes:
Easy to use and transport
Contact Information:
www.enasco.com/whirlpak

A1-13

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 1 Equipment and Materials

3. Chemical and Physical Testing


2.7. Test strips
HACH
Range (Steps)
0-425ppm (0,
25, 50, 120,
250, 425
ppm)

Total
Hardness
Total
Dissolved
Iron

Nitrate and
Nitrite
Nitrite

Total
alkalinity

pH

0-50ppm (0,
1, 2, 5, 10,
20, 50 ppm)
0-4ppm (0,
0.15, 0.3, 1,
1.5, 3 ppm)

0-10ppm (0,
0.5, 1.0, 2.0,
4.0, 10.0
ppm)

Free &
Total
Chlorine

Chloride

Price

Range

Price

(see website)
XX/50 tests

EMD
Steps

Price

0, 85, 170, 270,


360, 430 ppm

US$50/100 tests

0, 10, 25, 50, 100,


250, 500mg/L

US$60/100 tests

0, 0.1, 0.3, 0.6, 1,


2, 3 g/L

US$56/100 tests

0, 2, 5, 10, 20, 40,


80 ppm

US$56/100 tests

0, 0.5, 1, 2, 5, 10,
20 ppm

US$100/75 tests

0, 500, 1000,
1500, 2000, 3000
ppm

US$50/100 tests

XX/25 tests

Nitrate

5 in 1
Water
Quality
Test

Macherey-Nagel

Free Chlorine
Total Chlorine
Total Hardness
Total Alkalinity
pH

XX/25 tests

XX/50 tests

0, 1, 5, 10, 20,
40, 80mg/l

23.94/100
tests

0, 0.1, 0.3, 0.6,


1, 2, 3mg/l

23.94/100
tests

0, 1, 3, 10, 30,
100mg/l

50.17/100
tests

0, 500, 1000,
1500,
2000>3000mg/l

28.80/100
tests

0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5,
6, 7, 8, 9 pH
Units

10.06/100
tests

Various options

US$95/600 tests

39.50/100
tests

0, 10, 25, 50, 100,


250 ppm

US$90/100 tests

0, 10, 30, 60, 100,


200, 400 ppm

US$70/100 tests

10, 25, 50, 100,


250, 500 ppm

US$100/100
tests

XX/50 tests

10-20 ppm
increments
100-200 ppm
increments
0-240ppm (0,
40, 80, 120,
180, 240
ppm)
4-9 pH (4, 5,
6, 7, 8, 9 pH
Units)

XX/40 tests
XX/40 tests

XX/50 tests

XX/50 tests
XX/100 tests

Amonia
Aluminium
Ammonium
Phosphate
Fluoride

0-6ppm (0,
0.25, 0.5, 1,
3, 6 ppm)

XX/25 tests
0, 5, 20, 50,
200, 500mg/l
0, 10, 25, 50,
100, 200,
400mg/l
0, 3, 10, 25, 50,
100mg/l
0, 2, 5, 10, 20,
50, 100mg/L F,

40.58/100
tests
36.11/100
tests
68.71/30
tests

Refer to manufacturers websites for more choice and information (www.hach.com,


www.macherey-nagel.com, www.emdchemicals.com). There are also many other manufacturers
of test strips.

A1-14

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 1 Equipment and Materials

2.8. Colorimeters and Photometers


2.8.1. Wagtech Color comparator kit
Product Name: Wagtech Color Comparator kits
Test type: See table below
Cost:
~US$155 for the kit
~US$75 for each colour disc (one for each chemical parameter)
Reagents vary between US$90 to $120 for 250 tests (US$0.40-0.50 per test)
Necessary Equipment:
Colour discs
Comparator reagents
Distilled water (if necessary)
Summary: The colour comparator is quick and easy to use and gives accurate reliable results.
The kit is used in conjunction with tablet reagents and colour charts to test 32 different
parameters. Just add a tablet reagent to the test sample, place the tube in the comparator and
match the colour against the appropriate colour disc. The kit includes: comparator, 4 square
cuvettes and dilution tube. The kit contains no reagents or discs these should be ordered
separately.

A1-15

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 1 Equipment and Materials

Colour discs

Comparator Reagents

Notes:
Easy to use and to easy to transport (light and small)
Relatively precise results.
Contact Information:
Wagtech International Wagtech Court
Station Road Thatcham Berkshire
RG19 4HZ
United Kingdom
Tel +44 (0) 1635 872929
export@wagtech.co.uk
www.wagtech.co.uk

A1-16

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 1 Equipment and Materials

2.8.2. Hach Colorimeter DR/850


Product Name: Hach Colorimeter DR/820 (20+ methods) or DR/850 (50+ methods)
Cost:
~US$720 (DR/820)
~US$920 (DR/850)
Test Type: acid, chromium 1, chromium 2, cyanide 3,4 and 5, total and free chlorine, fluoride,
nitrate, lead, iron, manganese,
Necessary Equipment:
Reagents
Summary:
The colorimeter is expensive and the reagents vary in cost. The procedure has a high accuracy
and the results can be obtained immediately. The main advantage of the DR/850 over the DR/820
is it can test for Fluoride and Phosphorus.
Contact Information:
www.hach.com/dr800series

A1-17

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 1 Equipment and Materials

2.9. Parameter specific test kits


2.9.1. Arsenic
There are many arsenic kits available. Most are based on the Gutzeit Method which results in the
production of arsine gas which reacts with mercuric bromide impregnated on test paper resulting
in colour change.
Wagtech Digital Arsenator

HACH Arsenic Test Kit

ENPHO Arsenic Kit

Cost: US$700 (420 tests),


$1.70/test

Cost: US$123 (100 tests),


$1.20/test

Cost: ~Rs.6000.00 ($75) for


50 tests ($1.50/test)

Summary: The Digital


Arsenator uses an optical
photometer to digitally
measure the colour change on
mercuric bromide filter paper,
and its portable. It detects
arsenic within a reported range
of 2-100 g/L. The Arsenator
is significantly more expensive
than manual colour
comparison kits, but is more
accurate and precise. The
complete system comes with
sufficient reagents and
consumables for 420 tests.

Summary: The HACH Arsenic


test kit is similar to the
Wagtech Visual Arsenic
Detection kit.

Summary: ENPHO has


developed a semi-quantitative
low cost field test kit for testing
untreated ground water, like
tube-well. The salient features
of the kit are easy to test,
portable and rapid. Once the
reagents are finished they can
be refilled. If the concentration
of arsenic in the water is
higher than 150 g/L it is
better to dilute the sample with
distilled water, for better
results. Range: 10 g/L 500
g/L.

Contact Information:
Wagtech International
Wagtech Court
Station Road Thatcham
Berkshire, RG19 4HZ, UK
Tel +44 (0) 1635 872929
export@wagtech.co.uk
www.wagtech.co.uk

Contact Information:
www.hach.com

Contact Information:
ENPHO
110/25 Adarsa Marga-1,
Thapagaon, New Baneshwor
Nepal
Email: enpho@mail.com.np

A1-18

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 1 Equipment and Materials

Other Commercially Available Arsenic Test Kits*

Acustrip Inc. ( www.acustrip.com ) markets five different arsenic test kits. The main
product, the Arsenic Check test (#481396) has a range of 5-500 g/L, while the
lowerpriced, less sensitive version (#481298) has a range of 10-1000 g/L. The
company also markets a low-range kit (#481297) with a range of 2-160 g/L and two
individual kits for household use. The Acustrip kits have a reported reaction time of
only 12 minutes.
The Asia Arsenic Network ( www.asia-arsenic.net ), an early player in arsenic
testing and kit development, continues to market an inexpensive kit with a range of
20-700 g/L in Bangladesh (through NIPSOM National Institute of Preventative and
Social Medicine www.nipsom.org ) and Nepal (through ENPHO - Environment and
Public Health Organization, www.enpho.org). Kit specifications are available online.
Merck ( www.merck-chemicals.com ) has produced arsenic test kits for many years.
Currently the company markets two colorimetric (colour chart) kits: the standard
Merckoquant arsenic test kit (#117917) with a reported detection range of 20-3000
g/L and the newer more sensitive kit (#117927) with a reported detection range of 5500 g/L. Merck has also released a new digital optical photometer Spectroquant
arsenic kit (#101747) with a reported range of 1-100 g/L. This kit is used with
Mercks photometers to digitally measure colour results for better accuracy and
precision. These photometers are typically used in a laboratory setting, but one
model, the Nova 60A (# 1.09751.0001) comes with a battery pack and can be used
as a portable field station (although it is much larger and heavier than the arsenator,
below).
A joint project between UNICEF and the Rajiv Gandhi National Drinking Water
Mission in India has developed specifications for a field kit that does not use the
conventional mercuric-bromide paper. Instead, a detector tube is filled with a granular
media coated with a secondary colour reagent that reacts with arsenic and mercuric
bromide to produce a pink colour. Following completion of the test, arsenic
concentration (10-110 g/L) is read directly by measuring the extent of pink colour
penetration in the detector tube. Specifications for the kit are available from the Rural
Water Supply Network (RWSN)
UNICEF also supported the development of locally manufactured arsenic test kits in
China, Thailand and Vietnam, and the former two are still in use. The Thai kit,
developed and marketed by Mahidol University ( www.mahidol.ac.th ), has a
detection range of 10-110 g/L and is used both in Thailand and in other countries in
the region.

* This list does not include all available kits, and it also does not constitute an
endorsement of the companies or products that are listed.
Modified Extract from UNICEF Handbook on Water Quality, 2008
Available at: www.unicef.org/wes/files/WQ_Handbook_final_signed_16_April_2008.pdf

A1-19

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 1 Equipment and Materials

2.9.2. Fluoride
Fluoride, Pocket Colorimeter II Test Kit
Product Name: Hach Fluoride Colorimeter II
Cost: ~US$385
Test type: Fluoride
Necessary Equipment:
Reagents
Summary:
Range 0.1 to 2 mg/L, with SPADNS Fluoride AccuVac reagent set (50 tests). Two
precalibrated curves provided for using SPADNS Fluoride AccuVacs or SPADNS Fluoride
Solution (order separately, Cat. No. 444-49). Software allows for data logging and
calibration slope adjustment.
Note: If you will be testing for other chemical parameters too, the HACH DR/850 may be
more suitable as it tests for fluoride as well.

Contact Information:
HACH (USA)
www.hach.com

A1-20

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 1 Equipment and Materials

2.9.3. Chlorine & pH


Chlorine Pool Tester - Free residual and Total Chlorine
Product Name: Pooltester Residual and Total Chlorine, pH
Cost: US$10-15 (for 20 tests), DPD (Chlorine) and Phenol Red (pH) reagents (tablets)
cost between $0.10 and $0.50 per tablet.
Test type: Free Residual Chlorine (DPD1), Total chlorine (DPD3), pH (Phenol Red)
Summary:
The most economical method to test for residual chlorine, total chlorine and pH.
Notes: Any standard pool tester should work. Make sure the ranges are sensitive
enough between 0.1 mg/L and 1.0 mg/L (for example steps should be 0.1, 0.2, 0.3, 0.4,
0.5, etc.) when you wish to test for residual chlorine (which is ideally between 0.2 and
0.5 mg/L).
The DPD tablets are designed for a specific volume of water (usually 10mL). Check
instructions.

A1-21

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 1 Equipment and Materials

B. Cost of Equipment and Consumables


Company
Hach
Company,
USA

Wagtech
International,
UK

Equipment and Materials


Biological Test Kits
Hach MEL/MPN Total Coliform and E. coli
Biological Reagents
Replacement Apparatus Set for 50 samples
Buffered dilution water (pk/25)
Lauryl Tryptose w/MUG broth tubes, pk/15
m-ColiBlue24 media set for 50 tests
Absorbent pads and Membranes, Pack of 200
Chemical Test Kits
CEL/850 Basic Drinking Water Lab
Replacement agents
Chemical Test Strips
Ammonia 925 tests)
Alkalinity (50 tests)
Arsenic low range (100)
Chloride (30-600ppm)
Copper (25 tests)
Chlorine, hardness, alkalinity and pH (50 tests)
Hardness (50 tests)
Iron (25 tests)
Nitrate and Nitrite (25 tests)
pH (50 tests)
Phosphorous (50 tests)
Biological Test Kits
o
WagTech JMP Kit includes switch able between 37 and 44
C incubator, materials for 200 faecal coliform tests,
turbidimeter, Conductivity meter, Wagtech photometer kit
which allows the measurement of 400 different chemical
parameters including Ammonia, Aluminium, Manganese,
Iron, Fluoride and Nitrate.
Biological Test Reagents
m-ColiBlue24 media set for 50 tests
100 ml bottle for 50 tests
Membrane Laurel Sulphate Broth 38.1g to the 500mL
Absorbent Pads and Membranes, Pack of 200
Chemical Test Kits
Wagtech Digital Arsenator a portable instrument kit to
measure low levels of arsenic in drinking water. Measures
within the range 2 - 100 ppm arsenic. Includes materials for
420 tests.
WagTech 7100-Portable Photometer
WagTech 10195 Comparator Kit
Comparator Discs for per chemical
Chemical Test Reagents
Ammonia (250 tests)
Chlorine free and total (250 tests)
Fluoride (250 tests)

Cost
(2008 US$)
3092.70
111.80
105.85
50.00
151.20
80.00
3377.45
645.35
41.70
19.35
272.30
25.0
41.70
30.65
19.35
41.70
41.70
25.00
41.70
2500.00

151.20
78.90
102.0
80.00
650.00

1,031.00
155.00
75.00
70.00
42.00
100.00

A1-22

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Company

University of
Surrey, UK

ENPHO,
Nepal

Micrology
Laboratories,
USA

Appendix 1 Equipment and Materials

Equipment and Materials


Iron (250 tests)
Manganese (250 tests)
Nitrate (250 tests)
Phosphate (250 tests)
Biological Test Kit
Oxfam DelAgua Portable Test Kit includes material for 200
faecal coliform tests, chlorine test apparatus and
turbidimeter
Biological Test Reagents
Membrane Laurel Sulphate Broth 38.1g to the 500mL (for
250 tests)
Absorbent Pads and Membranes, Pack of 200
The following methods are not recognized widely but you
can use for your own validation:
Chemical Test Kit
ENPHO-Nepal Arsenic Kit including 50 tests
ENPHO Field Kit including testing reagents for 10 chemical
parameters (100 tests)
Biological Test Kit
Coliscan Kit is available, and includes materials for 100
tests, including Coliscan MF medium, 100 membrane filters
(47 mm), 100 dishes with absorbent pad, instruction page,
and a colony color guide
Plastic Filter Apparatus
Filter support Pad for 10 pcs
Graduated Cylinder (100 mL) from Uniscience Lab,
Pipettes 3 mL (500 pcs)
Wash Bottles 250 mL
Portable Egg Incubator Hova Bator (G.Q.F. manufacturing)
A small incubator used in poultry production.

Cost
(2008 US$)
110.00
84.00
122.00
116.00
3500.00

102.00
80.00

100.000
250.00

187.00

8.00
23.00
3.00
30.00
3.50
50.00-100.00

A1-23

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 1 Equipment and Materials

C. Supplier Contact Information


Hach Company
P.O. Box 389
Loveland, CO 80539
Tel: (800) 525-5940
Website: www.hach.com

Anachemia Science
P.O. Box 147
Lachine, QC H8S 4A7
Tel: (800) 361-0209
Website: www.anachemia.com

Wagtech International Ltd


Wagtech Court, Station Road
Thatcham Berkshire
RG19 4HZ
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 1635 872929
Fax: +44 (0) 1635 862898
Email: sales@wagtech.co.uk
Website: www.wagtech.co.uk

Robens Centre for Public and


Environmental Health
AW19, University of Surrey
Guildford, GU2 5XH
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 1483 879209/879281
Fax: +44 1483 879971
Email: delagua@surrey.ac.uk
Website: www.rcpeh.com or
www.delagua.org

Environment and Public Health Organization


(ENPHO)
110/25 Adarsa Marg-1, Thapagaon, New
Baneshwor, G.P.O Box No. : 4102,
Kathmandu(East), Nepal
Tel: 977-1-4468641, 4493188
Fax: 977-1-4491376
Email: enpho@mail.com.np
Website: www.enpho.org/products.htm

Millipore Corporation
397 Williams Street
Marlborough, MA 01752
Tel: (800) 225-1380
Website: www.millipore.com

Merck Limited, Shiv Sagar Estate 'A'


Dr Annie Besant Road
Worli, Mumbai- 400018 INDIA
Tel: (91-22) 6660 9000
Fax: (91-22) 2495 4590/ 2495 0354/ 2495 0307/
2493 6046
Email: maria.mendes@merck.co.in

Tintometer GmbH, Lovibond Water Testing


Schleefstrae 8a
D-44287 Dortmund
Tel: (+49) 2 31 / 9 45 10 - 0
Fax: (+49) 2 31 / 9 45 10 - 30
Email: e-verkauf@tintometer.de
Website:
www.tintometer.de/tintometer/english/e_kont
akt.htm

Micrology Laboratories
PO Box 340
Goshen, IN 46526-5360
Tel: (574) 533-3351
Fax: (574) 533-3370
Website: www.micrologylabs.com

UniScience Laboratories
94 Trottier Bay, Fort Garry Industrial Park
Winnipeg, R3T 3Y5, Manitoba, Canada
Tel: (204) 269 9644,
Toll Free: 877 406 9773 (USA & Canada)
Fax: 204 269 0674
Email: sales@unisciencelab.com
Website: www.unisciencelab.com

Dynamic Aqua-Supply Ltd.


112 - 8299 129th Street
Surrey, BC V3W 0A6,Canada
Tel: 1 (604) 543-7504
Fax: 1 (604) 543-7604 ;
Email: sales@dynamicaqua.com

A1-24

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 2 Establishing a Laboratory

Establishing a Water Quality Testing Laboratory


Having a water quality testing laboratory within the project makes it easier to monitor water
quality and identify the effectiveness of a HWT program. A laboratory set up is often driven
by scientific and regulatory considerations so it may not be feasible to establish a laboratory
in all projects. The feasibility depends upon the availability of financial resources, physical
facilities, lab personnel and basic lab instrumentation.
Basic Purpose of a Project Laboratory:

Determine the level of physical, biological and chemical contaminants of treated water
(before and after) through household water treatment technology.
Identify the contaminants present in local water supply and sources.
Raise awareness regarding the consequences of contaminated water in the communities.
Analyze the quality of drinking water samples for the further improvement of water source
or household water treatment technology.
Provide reliable water quality testing services to clients based on their request.

Range and Types of Samples


The water quality lab should focus on testing samples related to drinking water (i.e. different
sources, before and after treatment).
Scope of Work
The scope can include procurement of equipment, reagents, training, delivery and installation
to provide a fully functioning laboratory. Depending on the local situation, lab personnel may
identify the analytical procedures to be used. Determination of the instruments, equipment,
and laboratory information management systems specifications, and consumables, supplies,
spare parts required for the operation of a fully functioning laboratory.
Analytical methods should be designed according to the national water quality standards.
The WHO Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality are also available to help determine testing
procedures. Other published governmental and non-governmental methodologies can be
used as references as well such guideline for Canadian Drinking Water Quality and Oxfam
Guidelines for Water Quality Treatment in Emergency.
Laboratory Layout
You should organize the layout and design of laboratory furniture and equipment taking into
consideration the space available, storage, sterilization, sample retention, and
office/clerical/supervisory staff. As well, special attention has to be given for the proper
disposal of waste generated during the testing process.

A2-1

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 2 Establishing a Laboratory

Physical Facility

A room size at least 3 m x 4 m with good ventilation, sink and water supply
Refrigerator
Shelves or racks
Source of electricity

Staff and Equipment


One or possibly two laboratory staff may be required to undertake the required physical,
chemical and microbiological tests.
The laboratory staff of each type of laboratory, in liaison with the project implementer would
typically be responsible for:

Laboratory management
Determining and procuring the equipment and supplies that will be needed
Ensuring that laboratory standards are being followed and maintain quality control of
analytical procedure
Training new staff in the use of new equipment and procedures
Enforcing safety precautions and procedures, especially for fire and explosions
Preparing reagents and media, standardizing as necessary and storage under proper
conditions of reagents and media.
Checking accuracy of electronic equipment used in field analyses.
Preparing an inventory and stock control of chemicals and media.

It would be appropriate to provide two sets of portable water testing equipment during the
initial stage. The following is a potential equipment list for a laboratory.

Single incubator
18 aluminium Petri dishes
Spirit thermometer
18 aluminium calibration Petri dishes
Transformer/ battery
Charger
Two pin plug adaptor
Internal rechargeable and removable DC battery
Battery cable and crocodile clips
Vehicle cigarette adaptor
Membrane filtration unit
Membrane filters
Absorbent pads (2 containers)
Pad dispenser
Forceps
Dropping pipettes (5)
Containers that can be sterilized
Plastic beakers
Media measuring device
Lighter

A2-2

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 2 Establishing a Laboratory

Portable magnifier
Tube of silicone grease
Dilution tube (with brush)
Tablet crusher (3)
Waterproof digital turbidity meter
Calibration kit
Carrying case
Conductivity meter
pH 4, 7, 10 buffer solutions
Replacement batteries 1.5 V (4)
Photometer
Photometer lid
6 test tubes
Reagents:
Chlorine (free, combined, total)
Fluoride
Chlorine (free, combined, total)
Fluoride
Nitrate
Iron
Manganese
Phosphate LR
Phosphate HR
Screwdriver
Stopwatch
Manuals (4)
Paper towel
Whirl-pak sample bags
Alcohol strip
Distilled water
Methanol
Sterilizer (autoclave, etc.)

Safe Waste Disposal


A project laboratory should be designed to dispose the lab waste generated during the
testing process. Active bacterial cultures grown during incubation must be disposed of
properly. See Section 6 for more details on how to safely dispose waste.

A2-3

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 2 Establishing a Laboratory

Case Study: Community Laboratory in Cambodia


The Water and Watershed Research Program in the Department of Biology at the University
of Victoria assisted in the installation of a water quality testing laboratory in Siem Reap,
Cambodia.
The total cost for the lab equipment and supply was about US$10,000. The re-modeling of
building cost about $2,500. The operating cost is about $25,000 US per year which includes
the salaries for two employees, supplies, etc. The employees are a lab technician and field
supervisor who go out into communities to conduct interviews and collect samples.
The lab is able test about 30 samples per day. The tests done on each sample include
membrane filtration using standard lab equipment. Conductivity, salinity, TDS, turbidity, iron,
nitrates, phosphates, chlorine, and other colormetric analyses are performed using the Hach
890 colorimeter, a Hach portable turbidimeter and a portable conductivity meter.
(University of Victoria, Personal Correspondence, 2007)

A2-4

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 3 Determining the Sample Size

Determining the Sample Size


This is a sample size calculated by using formula derived from the University of Florida
(http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.). It shows that small sample population needs to select relatively
a big number of samples. This table shows the sample size based on population and
precision level.
Based on CAWST experience, it is recommended to use minimum 30 units in small
project (less than 100 households) and 10-15 % precision a larger project (more than
100 households). The sample size also depends on the variation or diversity of
geographical location, socio-economic status, and homogeneity in the community in
terms of religion and beliefs.
Sample size for 5%, 7% , 10% and 15% Precision Levels
Where Confidence Level is 95%
Size of
Population
500
600
700
800
900
1,000
2,000
3,000
4,000
5,000
6,000
7,000
8,000
9,000
10,000
15,000
20,000
25,000
50,000
100,000
>100,000

Sample Size (n) for Precision (e) of:


5%
222
240
255
267
277
286
333
353
364
370
375
378
381
383
385
390
392
394
397
398
400

7%
145
152
158
163
166
169
185
191
194
196
197
198
199
200
200
201
204
204
204
204
204

10%
83
86
88
89
90
91
95
97
98
98
98
99
99
99
99
99
100
100
100
100
100

15%
41
41
42
42
42
43
43
44
44
44
44
44
44
44
44
44
44
44
44
44
44

A3-1

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 4 Quality Control

Quality Control
Large-scale projects may want to monitor the quality of reagents, media and membranes
on a regular basis. Whenever you need to order new reagents, media and membrane
pad; it is a good idea to compare the products with those currently in use.
Procedure
1. Assemble at least five positive water samples (samples that have been shown to be
contaminated). The use of more samples will increase the sensitivity of the test.
2. Process the samples using the test batch of materials and the batch currently in use.
3. Incubate the testing apparatus.
4. Compare the growth characteristics of the contaminating organism on the two batches
of materials. Note any unusual readings.
5. Count or calculate the number of colonies per 100 mL.
6. Transform the counts to logarithms and enter the results for the two batches of
materials in parallel columns.
7. Calculate the difference d between the two transformed results for each sample
(include the + or - sign).
8. Calculate the mean of the differences and the standard deviation.
9. Perform a t-test, using the number of samples as n.
10. Use a statistical table to determine the critical value of t at the 0.05 significance level
(two-tailed test). Some critical values are given below.
If the calculated value of t exceeds the critical value, the two batches of materials give
significantly different results.
No of samples (n)

Degree of freedom

5
6
7
8
9
10

4
5
6
7
8
9

Critical value of t at 0.05


significance level
2.78
2.57
2.45
2.37
2.31
2.26

If this test indicates a problem with the new batch of materials, the test conditions and
procedure should be carefully reviewed and the batch retested. The batch should be
rejected as unsatisfactory only if the problems are confirmed by this second test.

A4-1

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 4 Quality Control

Precision Testing
Precision testing is important in the microbiological laboratory because test results can
reveal procedural problems and problems with the materials. Satisfactory results must
be obtained from precision tests before the results of monitoring tests are reported.
Procedure
1. At the beginning of each month, or at the earliest convenient time, collect 15 samples
that are likely to be positive by the first procedure, with a range of positive results.
2. Make duplicate analyses of each sample. The same analyst should do the tests, but
all technicians should be included, on a rota basis.
3. Record the results of the duplicate tests as D1 and D2. Calculate the logarithm of
each result. If either of a set of duplicate results is zero, add 1 to both values before
calculating the logarithms.
4. Calculate the difference R between each pair of transformed duplicates, and the mean
of these differences .
5. Calculate the precision criterion as 3.27 R.
6. Thereafter, analyse 10% of routine samples, or a minimum of two samples per day, in
duplicate. Calculate the logarithm of each result and the difference between the
logarithms. If the difference is greater than the calculated precision criterion, technician
variability is excessive and the analytical procedure should be reviewed. The laboratory
manager should decide whether or not to release monitoring test results in the light of
past performance.
(Adapted from WHO, 1996)

A4-2

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 5 Data Recording Forms

Data Recording Form


Location: _______________________________________

Sample Taken By: ______________________________________________________________

Date of Sampling: ________________________________

Sample Tested By: ______________________________________________________________

Sample
Description

Sample
ID #

Turbidity
(NTU)

pH

Chlorine
(mg/L)

Iron
(mg/L)

Manganese
(mg/L)

Phosphate
(mg/L)

Nitrate
(mg/L)

Flouride
(mg/L)

E. coli
(CFU/100
ml)

Total Coliform
Fecal Coliform
(CFU/100 ml)

Date of Report: ________________________________________


Comments:

A5-1

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 6 Test Procedures

Arsenic
Sources
Arsenic can naturally occur in ground water and some surface water. It is one of the
greatest chemical problems in developing countries. The WHO considers arsenic to be a
high priority for screening in drinking water sources (WHO, 2006).
High levels of arsenic can be found naturally in water from deep wells in over 30
countries, including India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Lao PDR,
Mexico, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Brazil. In south Asia alone, it is estimated that 60 to
100 million people are affected by unsafe levels of arsenic in their drinking water.
Bangladesh is the most severely affected, where 35 to 60 million of its 130 million people
are exposed to arsenic-contaminated water. It is possible that arsenic may be found in
other locations as more extensive testing is done.
Potential Health Effects
Arsenic is poisonous, so if people drink water or eat food contaminated with arsenic for
several years, they develop chronic health problems called arsenicosis.
Melanosis is the first symptom of drinking arsenic contaminated water over a few years.
Melanosis is light or dark spots on peoples skin, often on the chest, back, or palms. The
next step is that hardening skin bulges develop on peoples palms and feet called
keratosis. Drinking high amounts of arsenic for a longer time may cause cancer in the
lungs, bladder, kidney, skin, liver, and prostate. Arsenic may also cause vascular
diseases, neurological effects, and infant developmental defects.
Arsenicosis can be partially reversed and treated in the early stages, by making sure
people stop drinking arsenic contaminated water and by improving their nutrition. There
is currently no effective cure for arsenic poisoning. The only prevention is to drink water
that has safe levels of arsenic.
According to the UNDP (2006), the projected human costs over the next 50 years
include 300,000 deaths from cancer and 2.5 million cases of arsenic poisoning.
WHO Guidelines
The World Health Organization (WHO) considers arsenic to be a high priority for testing
in drinking water sources. The WHO suggests that drinking water should have less than
0.01 mg/L of arsenic. (0.01 mg/L is the same as 10 g/L or 10 ppb.)

WHO Guideline for Drinking Water < 0.01 mg/L

A6-1

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 6 Test Procedures

Many countries have their own standards which are less strict, ranging from 0.025 mg/L
to 0.05 mg/L (25-50 ppb). Many Southeast Asian countries that have an arsenic problem
have adopted a temporary standard of 0.05 mg/L because it is difficult to test accurately
to 0.01 mg/L and to treat water to meet that standard.
Household Water Treatment Options
One way to deal with arsenic in groundwater is to use a different source of drinking
water, such as rainwater or surface water. Some people collect and store their rainwater
and use it for drinking and cooking instead of arsenic contaminated ground water. If
people change their water source to surface water, they will probably need to treat the
water to remove turbidity and pathogens.
If people are unable to change to a water source that doesnt have arsenic, there are
several different technologies that have been developed to remove arsenic from water.
Each technology has advantages and limitations. Many of these technologies are being
used in Bangladesh where the arsenic problem is widespread. See the Household Water
Treatment for Arsenic Removal Fact Sheets for more information on the different
technologies.
Arsenic
Mitigation
Alternative
Arsenic Free Sources

Safe tube wells


Deep wells
Rainwater harvesting
Surface water

Arsenic Removal
Technologies

Oxidation
Coagulation
Adsorption
Complexation

A6-2

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 6 Test Procedures

Arsenic Test Procedure


This test procedure uses the ENPHO-Nepal test kit reagents and equipment. If you buy
equipment from a different company, then you will have to follow their instructions for the
arsenic test.
ENPHO-Nepal Test Kit Reagents and Equipment:

Arsine Generator Flask

Mercuric Bromide Paper Holder

Measuring Cylinder

Mercuric Bromide Paper

Tablet 1 and Tablet 2

Reagent 1

Standard Solution (5000 ppb)

Cap of Mercuric Bromide Paper Holder

Cotton

Distilled Water (for dilution)

Forceps

Colour Chart

Disposal Bag

Water Sample

Instructions:
1. Take a piece of cotton and insert it in the wider part of the tube of bromide paper
holder.
2. Soak the cotton with one drop of Reagent 1.
3. Place the Mercuric Bromide paper in the cap c and fit it in the small tube.
4. Measue 20 mL of your water sample and pour in arsenic generator flask.
5. Add a piece of Tablet 1 in your water sample
6. Add a piece of Tablet 2 in your water sample and immediatly fit the mercuric
bromide paper holder tightly and allow it to stay till the tablets are completely dissolved.
7. After the tablets completely dissolve, gently swirl the flask and let stand for 5 minutes.
8. Detached the bromide paper holder from the flask and remove the filter paper with the
help of forceps.
9. Compare the colour on the bromide paper with colour chart.

A6-3

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 6 Test Procedures

Chlorine
Sources
Chlorine is a chemical that we commonly add to drinking water to kill most pathogens
that can make us sick. Chlorine is not usually found naturally in the environment in large
amounts that can hurt us.
Two things can happen when we add chlorine to water:
1. Some chlorine reacts with other organic matter and forms new chlorine compounds.
This part is called combined chlorine.
2. Left over chlorine that is not combined is called free chlorine. The free chlorine is
mostly what gives protection of the drinking water to help prevent against secondary
contamination. It is good to have 0.2 - 0.5 mg/L of free chlorine.
Total Chlorine = Combined Chlorine + Free Chlorine
The amount of chlorine required to disinfect water is very dependant on each source
(organic matter, pH, temperature, etc).
Potential Health Effects
A small amount of chlorine in water is good since it kills most pathogens that can make
us sick. Many cities around the world add chlorine to their water to make it safe for
people to drink.
High amounts of chlorine can irritate our skin and eyes if we touch it. The strong smell of
chlorine can also hurt our throat and lungs if we breathe it in.
WHO Guidelines
The WHO suggests that drinking water should have less than 5.0 mg/L of chlorine.
When we add chlorine to disinfect drinking water, it is good to have between 0.2 0.5
mg/L of free residual chlorine to give long-term protection.

WHO Guideline for Drinking Water < 5.0 mg/L

Household Water Treatment Options


Since the addition of chlorine to water is a form of water treatment, we normally do not
try to remove chlorine from drinking water. It is good to have some chlorine in drinking
water to help make it safe.

A6-4

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 6 Test Procedures

Chlorine Test Procedure


This test procedure uses Wagtech reagents and equipment. If you buy equipment from a
different company, then you will have to follow their instructions for the chlorine test.
Reagents and Equipment:
Wagtech DPD No.1 Tablets
Wagtech DPD No.3 Tablets
Wagtech Comparator
Wagtech Colour Disc
Square Test Tubes (13.5 mm) 10 mL
Water Sample

Instructions:
1. Rinse a square test tube with your water sample and leave 2 or 3 drops of water in
the tube.
2. Add one DDP No.1 Tablet , crush the tablet, and then fill the test tube with the water
sample to the 10 ml mark. Mix to dissolve the tablet.
3. Place the test tube in the Comparator and match immediately against the colour disc.
The disc reading represents the free chlorine as mg/L. Stop the test at this stage if
you are only determining the free chlorine.
4. If you want to determine the total chlorine, add one DPD No.3 Tablet to the same
test tube. Crush the tablet and mix to dissolve.
5. Let the test tube to stand for two minutes.
6. Place the test tube in the Comparator and match against the colour disc. The disc
reading represents the total chlorine as mg/L.
7. The combined chlorine (mg/L) is calculated by using the following formula:
Total Chlorine = Combined Chlorine + Free Chlorine
Combined Chlorine = Total Chlorine - Free Chlorine

A6-5

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 6 Test Procedures

Fluoride
Sources
Fluoride can naturally occur in groundwater and some surface water. Drinking water is
normally the major source of fluoride exposure, with exposure from diet and from
burning high fluoride coal also major contributors in some regions.
High levels of fluoride can be found naturally in many areas of the world including,
Africa, the Eastern Mediterranean and southern Asia. One of the best known high
fluoride areas extends from Turkey through Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, India, northern
Thailand and China. However, there are many other areas with water sources that
contain high fluoride levels and which pose a risk to those drinking the water, notably
parts of the rift valley in Africa. It is possible that fluoride may be found in other locations
as more extensive testing is done.
Potential Health Effects
A small amount of fluoride in water is generally good for strengthening peoples teeth
and preventing decay. Fluoride is added to some city water systems and certain
consumer products to protect teeth such as toothpastes and mouthwashes.
Small amounts of fluoride are generally good for peoples teeth. But at higher amounts over
time, it can cause dental fluorosis and damage peoples teeth by staining and pitting. Over
many years, fluoride can build up in peoples bones, leading to skeletal fluorosis
characterized by stiffness and joint pain. In severe cases, it can cause changes to the bone
structure and crippling effects. Infants and young children are most at risk from high
amounts of fluoride since their bodies are still growing and developing.
There is currently no effective cure for fluorosis the only prevention is to drink water
that has safe levels of fluoride.
WHO Guidelines
The WHO suggests that drinking water should have 0.5 1.0 mg/L to protect teeth.
Many cities around the world add fluoride to their drinking water to reach this level.
Higher amounts of fluoride between 1.5 4.0 mg/L can cause dental fluorosis. Very high
amounts of fluoride greater than 10.0 mg/L can lead to skeletal fluorosis. This is why the
WHO suggests that drinking water should not have more than 1.5 mg/L of fluoride.

WHO Guideline for Drinking Water < 1.5 mg/L

A6-6

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 6 Test Procedures

Household Water Treatment Options


The best way to deal with fluoride in groundwater is to find a different source of drinking
water, such as rainwater or surface water. Some people collect and store their rainwater
during the wet season and use it for drinking or to dilute their groundwater during the
rest of the year. This helps to lower the amount of fluoride in their water and make it
safer to drink. If people change their water source to surface water, they will probably
need to treat the water to remove turbidity and pathogens.
Many of the areas that have fluoride contamination are arid and alternative sources of
water are not available. There are emerging household water treatment technologies
that are able to remove fluoride from drinking water. More research is needed to find a
simple, affordable and locally available technology that can be easily used by
households.
Fluoride
Mitigation
Alternative
Fluoride Free Sources
Rainwater harvesting
Surface water

Fluoride Removal
Technologies

Activated alumina
Nalgonda technique
Bone charcoal
Clay
Contact precipitation

A6-7

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 6 Test Procedures

Fluoride Test Procedure


This test procedure uses Wagtech reagents and equipment. If you buy equipment from a
different company, then you will have to follow their instructions for the fluoride test.
Reagents and Equipment:
Wagtech Fluoride No. 1 Tablets
Wagtech Fluoride No.2 Tablets
Wagtech Comparator
Wagtech Colour Disc
Square Test Tubes (13.5 mm) 10 mL
Water Sample

Instructions:

1. Fill a square test tube with your water sample to the 10 mL mark.
2. Add one Fluoride No.1 Tablet, crush the tablet, and mix to dissolve.
3. Add one Fluoride No.2 Tablet, crush the tablet, and mix to dissolve.
4. Let the test tube stand for 5 minutes.
5. Place the test tube in the Comparator and match against the colour disc. The disc
reading represents the fluoride as mg/L.

A6-8

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 6 Test Procedures

Iron
Sources
Iron can be naturally found in groundwater and some surface water (such as creeks,
rivers and some shallow dug wells). There are areas of the world that have naturally high
amounts of iron in their groundwater. Iron can also be found in drinking water that is
passed through rusty steel or cast iron pipes.
Iron can come in two forms in water: dissolved and suspended. If groundwater comes
from a deep tube well, the iron may be dissolved and not visible. However, once the iron
is exposed to air, it usually turns the water black or orange colour. If surface water has
iron in it, it will be a red-orange colour from the iron that is suspended in the water.
Potential Health Effects
Drinking water with high concentrations of iron will not make people sick. Iron, however, can
change the colour of water and it may cause people to not use it and choose another,
possibly contaminated, water source instead.
WHO Guidelines
The WHO does not have a suggested guideline for iron in drinking water since it does
not have any adverse health effects.
Usually, people do not like the taste of drinking water that has more than 0.3 mg/L of
iron. Concentrations between 1.0 3.0 mg/L can be acceptable for people drinking
anaerobic well water.
Iron levels above 0.3 mg/L can stain water pipes and clothes during washing.

No WHO Guideline for Drinking Water

Household Water Treatment Options


There are some different options to help take iron out of drinking water. To remove the
orange colour suspended iron, you can let a container of water sit for a day and some of
the orange flakes may settle to the bottom. Afterwards, you will need to pour out the
clearer water from the container and throw away the orange flakes in a safe spot.
Filters (such as the biosand filter or ceramic filters) can also be used to take out some of
the iron from drinking water. Even straining the water through a cloth can remove some
of the suspended iron.

A6-9

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 6 Test Procedures

Iron Test Procedure


This test procedure uses Wagtech reagents and equipment. If you buy equipment from a
different company, then you will have to follow their instructions for the iron test.
Reagents and Equipment:
Wagtech Iron No. 1 Tablets
Wagtech Iron No.2 Tablets
Wagtech Comparator
Wagtech Colour Disc
Square Test Tubes (13.5 mm) 10 mL
Water Sample

Instructions:

1. Fill a square test tube with your water sample to the 10 mL mark.
2. Add one Iron No.1 Tablet, crush the tablet, and mix to dissolve.
3. Add one Iron No.2 Tablet, crush the tablet, and mix to dissolve.
4. Let the test tube stand for 10 minutes.
5. Place the test tube in the Comparator and match against the colour disc. The disc
reading represents the iron as mg/L.

A6-10

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 6 Test Procedures

Manganese
Sources
Manganese can be naturally found in groundwater and surface water, and it usually
occurs with iron. However, human activities may also be responsible for manganese
contamination in water in some areas.
Manganese can come in two forms in water: dissolved and suspended. If groundwater
comes from a deep tube well, the manganese may be dissolved and not visible. In
surface water, manganese can be dissolved or suspended. Water with high levels of
suspended manganese usually has a black colour or black flakes in it.
Potential Health Effects
People need small amounts of manganese to keep healthy and food is the major source
for people. However, too little or too much manganese can cause adverse health effects.
High levels of manganese, however, can turn water a black colour and it may cause people
to not use it and choose another, possibly contaminated, water source instead.
WHO Guidelines
The WHO suggests that drinking water should not have more than 0.4 mg/L of
manganese.
Usually, people do not like the taste of drinking water that has more than 0.15 mg/L of
manganese. Also, amounts above 0.15 mg/L can stain water pipes, clothes during
washing, and food during cooking. Even levels of manganese below 0.05 mg/L may form
black coatings on distribution pipes that come off into water as small black flakes.
The presence of manganese in water may also lead to the accumulation of microbial
growths in the water distribution system.

WHO Guideline for Drinking Water < 0.4 mg/L

Household Water Treatment Options


There are some different options to help take suspended manganese out of drinking
water. First of all, you can let a container of water sit for a day and some of the black
flakes may settle to the bottom. Afterwards, you will need to pour out the clearer water
from the container and throw away the black flakes in a safe spot.
Filters (such as the biosand filter or ceramic filters) can also be used to take out some of
the suspended manganese from drinking water. Even straining the water through a cloth
can remove some of the flakes.

A6-11

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 6 Test Procedures

Manganese Test Procedure


This test procedure uses Wagtech reagents and equipment. If you buy equipment from a
different company, then you will have to follow their instructions for the manganese test.
Reagents and Equipment:
Wagtech Manganese No. 1 Tablets
Wagtech Manganese No.2 Tablets
Wagtech Comparator
Wagtech Colour Disc
Square Test Tubes (13.5 mm) 10 mL
Water Sample

Instructions:

1. Fill a square test tube with your water sample to the 10 mL mark.
2. Add one Manganese No.1 Tablet, crush the tablet, and mix to dissolve.
3. Add one Manganese No.2 Tablet, crush the tablet, and mix to dissolve. Put the cap
on the tube.

4. Let the test tube stand for 20 minutes.


5. Place the test tube in the Comparator and match against the colour disc. The disc
reading represents the manganese as ug/L.

A6-12

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 6 Test Procedures

Phosphate
Sources
Phosphate or phosphorus is a natural mineral that is mined and used in fertilizers and
soaps. They help plants to grow including water plants in lakes and rivers. With
excessive plant growth, the waterways become clogged and fish will die off.
Potential Health Effects
Phosphates are not usually considered harmful to our health. However, high amounts of
phosphate in water usually indicate that there is some contamination from mining,
domestic wastewater, or excessive fertilizers being applied to farm land. This is an
indicator that protecting the water source is needed to maintain a healthy natural water
system.
WHO Guidelines
The WHO does not suggest a guideline value for phosphate in drinking water.

No WHO Guideline for Drinking Water

Household Water Treatment Options


There are currently no practical or common household water treatment technologies that
are able to remove phosphate from drinking water.

A6-13

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 6 Test Procedures

Manganese Test Procedure


This test procedure uses Wagtech reagents and equipment. If you buy equipment from a
different company, then you will have to follow their instructions for the phosphate test.
Reagents and Equipment:
Wagtech Phosphate No. 1 LR Tablets
Wagtech Phosphate No.2 LR Tablets
Wagtech Comparator
Wagtech Colour Disc
Square Test Tubes (13.5 mm) 10 mL
Water Sample

Instructions:

1. Fill a square test tube with your water sample to the 10 mL mark.
2. Add one Phopshate No.1 LR Tablet, crush the tablet, and mix to dissolve.
3. Add one Phosphate No.2 LR Tablet, crush the tablet, and mix to dissolve.
4. Let the test tube stand for 10 minutes.
5. Place the test tube in the Comparator and match against the colour disc. The disc
reading represents the phosphate as mg/L.

A6-14

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 6 Test Procedures

Turbidity
Sources
Turbidity is a physical property of water. It is the cloudiness caused by small particles
(suspend solids) that are generally invisible to the naked eye. One can compare it to
smoke in air. In rivers and other surface waters, turbidity usual increases after heavy rain
as the water picks up the dirt particles before emptying into the water sources.
The units for measuring turbidity are NTU (Nephelometric Turbidity Units) which are not
concentrations (mg per L) such as units for chemical testing, but rather values
associated with how much light is reflected due to the amount of particles in the water.
The more particles, the higher the NTU value.
Potential Health Effects
Turbidity doesnt cause direct health impacts but is an indicator of biological
contamination, as viruses, parasites and bacteria like to attach themselves to small
particles. It also reduces the effectiveness of chlorination as chlorine will combine with
the particles and less will be available to combine with the pathogens.
WHO Guidelines
The WHO guideline for turbidity is less than 5 NTU, which, to the naked eye, looks like
clear water from a tap, spring or deep borehole.

WHO Guideline for Drinking Water < 5 NTU

Household Water Treatment Options


Water with turbidity levels greater than 50 NTU can be often left to settle, allowing the
particles to fall to the bottom. Filtering the water through a clean cotton cloth folded a few
times over can also significantly reduce turbidity.

A6-15

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 6 Test Procedures

Turbidity Test Procedure


A simple test to measure the turbidity is to use a 2 L clear plastic bottle filled with the
sample water. Place this on top of large print such as the CAWST logo on the participant
manual. If you can see this logo looking down through the top of the bottle, the water
probably has a turbidity of less than 50 NTU.
Turbidity tubes are another easy and cheap way to visually estimate NTU. DelAgua and
Wagtech testing kits provide turbidity tubes, but you can even make one yourself.
Turbidity meters are electronic devices which provide quick and very accurate results
allowing for high precision for turbidity less than 5 NTU.
Equipment:
Turbidity tube

Instructions:
1. Go outside or in a room with good lighting.
2. Rinse the turbidity tube with sample water 2 to 3 times.
3. Place a sheet of white paper on the floor
4. Hold the tube vertically and pour water sample into the tube slowly in stages of few
centimeters of water column at a time.
5. Holding the tube at hip level, over the white sheet of paper, try to see the cross or
circle at the bottom of the tube after each addition of water column from the top of
the tube. Keep on doing this until the black cross or circle at the bottom of the tube
just disappears or blurs completely.
6. Hold the tube vertically and read turbidity in NTU using the graduation on the side of
the tube. The result is the value of the line nearest the water level. (For some tubes
you may have to refer to a correspondence table).
Remarks: The readings will be significantly affected by the amount light, and the vision
of the person doing the test. Some larger particles may settle directly to the bottom,
blocking the view. Give it a good shake and take the reading.

A6-16

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 6 Test Procedures

Microbiological Testing: PresenceAbsence (P-A)


Test Procedure
This test procedure uses the Hach Pathoscreen reagents and equipment. If you buy
equipment from a different company, then you will have to follow their instructions for the
presence-absence test.
Hach Reagents and Equipment:

Bottle (20 mL)

PathoScreen Medium P/A Pillows

Methanol or Alcohol

Scissors

Water Sample

Instructions:
1. Fill the sterilized bottle with 20 mL of your water sample.
2. Wipe the outside of the pillow with alcohol before opening it.
3. Use scissors to cut open one end of the pillow.
4. Add the powder to your water sample.
5. Put the cap on the bottle and shake it to mix the powder and water.
6. Put the bottle somewhere with a constant temperature (25 35oC) for 24 to 48 hours.
7. Check the bottle after 24 hours to see if there is a colour change. If there is no colour
change, then let the bottle sit for another 24 hours.
8. Compare the colour of the water sample with the following chart to determine the
results.

Colour

Result

No colour change

Negative

Changes from yellow to black

Positive

Black precipitate forms

Positive

A6-17

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 6 Test Procedures

Microbiological Testing: Most Probable Number (MPN)


Test Procedure
This test procedure uses the Hach Pathoscreen reagents and equipment. If you buy
equipment from a different company, then you will have to follow their instructions for the
MPN test.
Hach Reagents and Equipment:

5 bottles (20 mL)

5 PathoScreen Medium P/A Pillows

Methanol or Alcohol

Scissors

5 Water Samples

Instructions:
1. Fill one of the sterilized bottles with 20 mL of your water sample.
2. Wipe the outside of the pillow with alcohol before opening it.
3. Use scissors to cut open one end of the pillow.
4. Add the powder to your water sample.
5. Put the cap on the bottle and shake it to mix the powder and water.
6. Repeat Steps 1-5 for the other four water samples.
6. Put the bottles somewhere with a constant temperature (25 35oC) for 24 to 48
hours.
7. Check the bottles after 24 hours to see if there is a colour change. If there is no colour
change, then let the bottle sit for another 24 hours.
8. Compare the colour of the water samples with the following table to determine the
results.

Colour

Result

No colour change

Negative water sample

Changes from yellow to black

Positive water sample

Black precipitate forms

Positive water sample

A6-18

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 6 Test Procedures

9. Compare the results of the 5 water samples with the following table to determine the
overall level of contamination of the water samples.

Positive Water Samples

MPN/100 mL

< 1.1

1.1

2.6

4.6

8.0

> 8.0

A6-19

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 6 Test Procedures

Microbiological Testing: Membrane Filtration


Test Procedure 1
This test procedure uses the Wagtech equipment. If you buy equipment from a different
company, then you will have to follow their instructions for the membrane filtration test.

Wagtech Equipment:
1. Hand Pump
2. Base Container
3. Sample Cup
4. Filter Cup
5. Filter Paper Holder
6. Gaskets
7. Bronze Support
Other Equipment:

Methanol
Lighter
Forceps
Tissue
Petri Dishes
Filter Papers (0.45 um)
Pad Dispenser
Pads

A6-20

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 6 Test Procedures

Putting the Wagtech Equipment Together:


1. Put the filter equipment together by following the picture below.

Instructions for Sterilizing Wagtech Equipment:


The following steps should be done before taking a water sample and after filtering each
sample.

1. Dry the filter cup and sample cup dry with clean tissue paper.
2. Pour 1 mL of methanol into the sample cup and swirl.
3. Put the sample cup upright and away from anything that can catch on fire.
4. Light the methanol. While the methanol is still burning turn the filter equipment into the
sample cup.

5. Wait for at least 5 minutes to ensure that the sample cup and filter equipment are
sterilized (methanol burns anaerobically and forms formaldehyde a strong bactericide).

6. Pour away any methanol that is left over in the sample cup.

A6-21

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 6 Test Procedures

Instructions for Using Wagtech Equipment:

1. Use the dispenser to put a pad in a sterile Petri dish.


2. Pour about 2 mL of broth onto the pad.
3. Sterilise the forceps by holding the tips in a flame for 5 seconds. Allow the forceps to cool
before handling the filter paper.

4. Using forceps, place a sterile filter paper onto the bronze support. Make sure that the
grid side of the filter paper is facing up. If the filter paper tears or becomes contaminated,
throw it out and use a new one.

5. Lock the filter paper in place by pushing the filter cup firmly down into position.
6. Pour your water sample into the filter cup up to the 100 mL mark.
7. Connect the hand pump to the base container and pump to suck the water sample
through the filter paper.

8. When all the water has been filtered, undo the hand pump and take off the filter cup.

A6-22

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 6 Test Procedures

9. Use the sterile forceps to take the filter paper off the bronze support.

10. Place the filter paper on top of the pad and broth in the Petri dish.

11. Put the lid on the Petri dish and label it with the sample number and date.
12. Put the Petri dish into the rack and repeat this process for all of your water samples.
When you are finished, place the rack into the incubator. Wait between 1 to 4 hours
after filtering before incubating your samples to allow the bacteria to resuscitate/recover.

A6-23

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 6 Test Procedures

Test Procedure 2
This test procedure uses the Nalgene equipment. If you buy equipment from a different
company, then you will have to follow their instructions for the membrane filtration test.
Nalgene Equipment:

1. Hand Pump
2. Nalgene Plastic Filter Unit
3. Sample Cup
Other Equipment:

Methanol
Lighter
Forceps
Tissue
Petri Dishes
Pad Dispenser
Pads

Instructions for Using Nalgene Equipment:

1. Use the dispenser to put a pad in a sterile Petri dish.


2. Pour about 2 mL of broth onto the pad.
3. Open the package and place the sterilized plastic filter on the table.
4. Pour your water sample into the filter cup up to the 100 mL mark.
5. Connect the hand pump to the base container and pump to suck the water sample
through the filter paper.

6. When all the water has been filtered, undo the hand pump. Squeeze, twist and take off
the filter cup.

7. Sterilise the forceps by holding the tips in a flame for 5 seconds. Allow the forceps to cool
before handling the filter paper.

8. Use the sterile forceps to take the filter paper off the base container.
9. Place the filter paper on top of the pad and broth in the Petri dish.
10. Put the lid on the Petri dish and label it with the sample number and date.
11. Put the Petri dish into the rack and repeat this process for all of your water samples.
When you are finished, place the rack into the incubator. Wait between 1 to 4 hours
after filtering before incubating your samples.

A6-24

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 7 Example Test Report

Example Water Quality Test Report


The report should be written by a qualified technician with input and collaboration with field
workers and technicians for good interpretation of results and recommendations.
The following is an example template for a report used in the context of water quality monitoring
for a small project. In the example, new supplies (drilled wells, hand-dug wells) are tested every
6 months for chemical parameters and every 3 months for feacal contamination. Depending on
resources, you may only want to test for chemical contaminants once or twice (depending on
the result of the test!) but more frequently for fecal contramination (depending on the source
type). In this example, random sampling was not necessary. In the case where a large number
of systems need to be tested (such as a biosand filter project, or a large geographical area) then
the sampling method chosen should be explained in the Methodology section of the report.
See Section 3 and Appendix 5 for sampling methods.

A7-1

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 7 Example Test Report

Quarterly Water Quality Testing Report


for October to December 2007
January 2008
Prepared by: A. Smith, Monitoring Officer, NGO Good Water Quality for All
1. Introduction
Water quality monitoring reports are produced every 3 months as part of the NGOs monitoring
and evaluation programme. This is the fourth and final report for the year 2007 covering all
project areas (villages A, B, C and D) and all water supply systems (drilled wells, hand-dug
wells, biosand filters).

2. Objectives
Water testing is done in the context of domestic use with a particular focus on drinking water
quality as one of the programmes objective is improving drinking water supply.
Water quality testing is undertaken within the NGOs project areas:
1. To assess the quality of newly constructed water supplies and treatement systems at
commissioning
2. To monitor the quality of existing supply and treatement systems
Though this report does include biosand filter water quality, it does not include analysis of the
effectiveness of the biosand filters in our programmes. Refer to the report intitled Biosand Filter
Water Quality Testing Report December 2007 which analysed the effectiveness of biosand
filters programme in Village D, based on the chosen media and project context.

3. Testing Parameters
For drinking water, the national standards, WHO guidelines and UNICEF recommend
monitoring micorbiological quality as first priority (i.e. fecal coliforms or E.coli). 10 CFU/100 ml
has been used as the acceptable limit. Other important priorities are the aesthetic quality of
water (to ensure user acceptability) and contimation with chemicals of known health risk.
Chemicals of concern for health in our project area include fluoride and arsenic and for aesthetic
concern, iron, manganese, color, odour and taste. pH and Turbidity will also be tested in relation
to the biosand filter and household chlorination.
Physical and biological parameters are tested every 3 months, and chemical contamination
every six months (where relevent).

4. Testing Methodology
Samples are collected in the field by trained field workers (see data collection sheets in
appendix) using sterilised sample bottles and placed in the fridge. All testing is started within 8
hours of sample collection by a trained technicien in a dedicated room and clean environment.

A7-2

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 7 Example Test Report

Parameter

Method

Details

E.coli
pH

Membrane filtration with


Coliscan-MF broth
Test strips

Turbidity
Colour,
odour, taste
Fluroride

Turbidity tube
Visual observation and
discussion with user
Visual color comparison

See testing protocol in appendix. Duplicate samples are


tested. 1 field blank per batch of 20 samples.
Product: EMD test strips. ref.9588-3. pH Range 5 to 10,
step 0.3 to 0.5
Wagtech
See data collection sheets

Arsenic
Iron

Wagtech Arsenator
Test strip

Manganese

Test strip

Wagtech Color disk (Wag-WE10224) and reagent WagWE10322 (range 0 to 1.5 mg/l) dillutions made for
concentrations beyond range using deionised water
Range 2 to 100ppb
ITS Inc. Sensafe Iron Check (ref. 480125). Range 0 to 5
mg/l. Sensitivities: 0, 0.02, 0.05, 0.1, 0.2, 0.3, 0.5, 0.75,
1.0, 2.0, 5.0
ITS Inc. Sensafe Iron Check (ref. 481020). Range 0 to 2
mg/l. Sensitivities: <0.02, 0.05, 0.1, 0.2, 0.5, 1.0, 2.0 ppm
(mg/L)

5. Results
Results were transcribed on data recording sheets and summarized in the following table.
Information is grouped by source and village. For trend analysis purposes, the data from the
past quarters have been included in the tables. All new data is marked in italic. Parameters
exceeding national drinking water quality standards are in bold.
SampleID

Date

pH

Tb*

F*

Ar*

Fe*

Mn*

E.coli*

Obs*

Samples from Borehole (Market- BHA)


Location: Village A Depth 52m India Mark II handpump (Date of Comissioning : 12 Jan 2007)
10
15
BHA-1
12-01-07
8
0
0
0.3
0.2
Newly commissioned. Slab and pump clean
BHA-2
15-04-07
ND
<5
ND
ND
ND
ND
5
Slight metalic taste
BHA-3
10-07-07
7.9
<5
0
0
0.4
0.3
0
Metalic taste. Complaints from users
BHA-4
12-10-07
ND
<5
ND
ND
ND
ND
10
Slight colour (orange)
BHA-5
14-12-07
8
10
0
0
0.4
0.2
30
Cracks on slab
Samples from Borehole (School- BHB)
Location: Village B - Depth 45m India Mark II handpump (Date of Comissioning : 13 Dec 2007)
BHB-1
14-12-07
7.2
<5
20
0
0.2
0
0
Water smell of chlorine
Samples from Hand dug well (HDC)
Location: Village C - Depth 8m Open well (Date of commissioning : 6 Jul 2007)
10
HDC-1
10-07-07
7.5
0
0
HDC-2
12-10-07
ND
40
ND
ND
HDC-3
14-12-07
4.5
50
0
0
Samples from Biosand filter outlet (Ref:BSD1)
Location: Village D - (Installation date: 10 Jan 2007)
10
BSD1-1
12-01-07
8
0
0
BSD1-2
15-04-07
ND
5
ND
ND
100
BSD1-3
10-07-07
7.5
<5
0
BSD1-4
12-10-07
ND
<5
ND
ND
BSD1-5
14-12-07
8
5
0
0

0.1
ND
0.1

0
ND
0

150
260
500

0.0
ND
0.0
ND
0.0

0
ND
0.01
ND
0

14
10
0
10
3

Water slightly cloudy


Brownish color water

Water slightly cloudy


Borehole water used in dry season

* Tb = Turbidity (NTU), F = Fluoride (ppm), Ar = Arsenic (ppb), Mn = Manganese (ppm), E.coli = CFU/100ml, Obs =
Observations made by field worker. ND = Parameter was not tested.

A7-3

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 7 Example Test Report

6. Interpretation and Recommendations


Summary

The bacteriological quality of all systems tested where within acceptable range (0 to 14
CFU/100 ml) except for the hand-dug well in Village C (ref: HDC) has increased levels of
fecal contamination (500 CFU/100 ml in the latest test) and recently the Market Borehole in
Villlage A.
Very high levels of fluroride (20 mg/L, 10 times the limit) where found in the first test for the
newly commissioned borehole at the school in Village B.
Arsenic was found at excessive concentration (100 ppb) in a biosand filter (BSD1) in Village
D in July.

Village A
The turbidity for the Market borehole (BHA) is high (should be <5 NTU). The variation in the
rainy season shows possible infiltration of surface waters or insufficient development of
borehole. This could lead to bacteriological contamination. Recommend more testing, checking
BH apron integrity and drilling records, recommend treatment and rehabilitation if possible.
The iron still seems to be a problem. Recommend continued testing, coupled with users survey
to establish if concentrations are a deterrent (could lead to returning to less safe water sources).
Suggest settling and filtration, and explanation that is not harmfull for health.
Village B
New borehole, these are the first tests. Fluoride is over 100x over limit. Recommend doing
further fluoride tests to confirm as soon as possible.
Village C
The hand-dug well (ref: HDC) showed significant and increasing levels of feacal contamination
(500 CFU/100ml) since the commissioning of the well (July 2007). This could be due to surface
water infiltration and/or poor user hygiene. Recommend checking the well lining and sanitation
practices around area. Recommend users to treat water.
Village D
The July testing showed 100ppb of Arsenic. Further investigations in August confirmed that the
biosand filter users in the area were using borehole water in the dry season (a borehole which
was contaminated with Arsenic) because the hand-dug well in the rainy season would dry up.
Recommend adapting the biosand filters in the area to elimiate Arsenic or recommend using
another source in the dry season. Further arsenic testing should be done to confirm arsenic
contamination.

A7-4

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 8 Culture Media

Culture Media for Microbiological Testing


Photo

Culture Media
m-Lauryl sulphate
(MLSB)

Type
Broth

Suitable for
Indicators*
TC

TT
C

E.
coli

Incubation Time
and Temperature
o

~30 C for 4 hours


o
then 44 0.5 C
(for FC) for 14hrs

NutriPad

Form /
Container

Colony Counting

Powder
(38.1g or
500g)

Both thermotolerant
and total coliforms
produce yellow
colonies.

Powder

Total coliforms
produce light to dark
blue colonies. (E. coli
produce dark red
colonies with a green
metallic sheen).

35.0 0.5C (for


TC) for 18hrs
m-Endo

Broth

(X)

35.0 0.5C for


24hrs

Agar

Dehydrated
pads

NutriPad

m-FC

Broth

44.5 0.5C

Powder

Thermotolerant
coliforms produce
blue to blue-grey
colonies.

Agar

Modified m-TEC

Agar

35.0 0.5C for


2hrs then 44.5
0.5C for 2224hours

Powder

E. coli produce redmagenta colonies.

m-ColiBlue24

Broth

35 0.5C for 2224hrs

Liquid (2 ml
ampoules,
100ml glass
bottle)
refrigerated

E. coli produce blue


colonies and total
coliform produce red
colonies.

Agar

Prepared
agar plates

Coliscan MF

Broth

Agar

ambient to 37C
(ideally 34-37C
for 18-20 hrs)

Liquid (20
ml plastic
bottles)
frozen

E. coli produce purple


blue or dark blue
colonies.

* TC Total Coliforms, FC Thermotolerant Coliforms

A8-1

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 9 WHO Guidelines

WHO Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality: Selected Chemicals


Chemical

Guideline Value

pH

No health based value is proposed

Aluminium

No health based value is proposed

Ammonia

No health based value is proposed

Antimony

0.02 mg/L

Arsenic

0.01 mg/L

Barium

0.7 mg/L

Boron

0.5 mg/L

Cadmium

0.003 mg/L

Calcium

No health based value is proposed

Chloride

No health based value is proposed

Chlorine

5 mg/L

Chromium

0.05 mg/L

Copper

2.0 mg/L

Cyanide

0.07 mg/L

Fluoride

1.5 mg/L (Recommended to have 0.5 - 1.0


mg/L for artificial fluoridation of drinking water)

Iron

No health based value is proposed

Lead

0.01 mg/L

Manganese

0.4 mg/L

Mercury

0.006 mg/L (for inorganic mercury)

Molybdenum

0.07 mg/L

Nickel

0.07 mg/L

Nitrate

50 mg/L

Nitrite

3 mg/L (short-term exposure)


0.2 mg/L (long-term exposure)

Potassium

No health based value is proposed

Silver

No health based value is proposed

Sodium

No health based value is proposed

Total dissolved solids (TDS)

No health based value is proposed

Uranium

0.015 mg/L

Zinc

No health based value is proposed

(Adapted from WHO, 2006)

A9-1

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Appendix 9 WHO Guidelines

Potential Health Effects


The effect of the contaminant on human health depends largely upon the type of
contaminant, its concentration, the length and frequency of exposure. The users age,
physical health condition and immunity can also have a large influence on the resulting
health effect. A list of chemical contaminants, the health impacts they pose, and
potential contamination sources are provided in the following table.

Potential Health Impacts of Chemical Contamination


Chemical

Potential Health Effect from


Drinking Water

Aluminium

Little indication that orally ingested


aluminium is acutely toxic. No health
based guideline is proposed.

Naturally occurring; most abundant metal.


Aluminium salts are widely used in water
treatment as coagulants to reduce organic
matter, colour, turbidity and
microorganism levels.

Ammonia

Ammonia in drinking water is not of


immediate health relevance. No health
based guideline is proposed.

Sewage, industrial processes, and


agricultural activities

Antimony

Itchy, rough and broken skin. Eczema and


dermatitis result from long term and
regular contact with antimony.

High concentrations may occur from


mining operations and active volcanic
areas.

Arsenic

Skin disease (melanosis and keratosis).


May lead to lung, bladder, kidney, skin,
liver, and prostate cancer. Also known to
cause vascular diseases, neurological
effects, and infant developmental defects.

Naturally occurring; also used


commercially and industrially in the
manufacture of transistors, lasers and
semi-conductors. Some areas have
relatively high concentrations of arsenic in
groundwater.

Barium

No evidence that barium is carcinogenic


or mutagenic.

Used in a variety of industrial applications;


however barium in water comes mainly
from natural sources.

Toxic to the male reproductive tract and


may cause developmental toxicity.

Used in the manufacture of glass, soaps


and detergents and as flame retardants.
Found naturally in groundwater, but its
presence in surface water is frequently a
consequence of the discharge of treated
sewage that contains detergents.
Conventional water treatment does not
significantly remove boron.

Cadmium

High doses can cause kidney damage.

Used in the steel industry, plastics and in


batteries. Released in wastewater,
fertilizers and local air pollution.
Contamination in drinking water may also
be caused by galvanized pipes, solders
and metal fittings. Food is the main
source of exposure.

Calcium

Essential element for human nutrition. No


health based guideline is proposed.

Naturally occurring.

Boron

Source

A9-2

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Chemical

Potential Health Effect from


Drinking Water

Appendix 9 WHO Guidelines

Source

Chloride

Several studies have suggested that the


chloride may play a role in kidney function
and nutrition.

Chloride in drinking water comes from


natural sources, sewage, industrial
effluents, and from urban runoff
containing de-icing salt. Main source of
human exposure is the addition of salt to
food.

Chlorine

Effects are not likely to occur at levels of


chlorine that are normally found in the
environment. High dose of chlorine
irritates the skin, the eyes, and the
respiratory system.

Produced in large amounts and widely


used industrially and domestically as an
important disinfectant and bleach.

Chromium

No significant health effects have been


attributed to chromium due to lack of
toxicological data.

Naturally occurring. Food appears to be


the major source of uptake.

Copper

Copper is both an essential nutrient and


drinking water contaminant. Can effect
the gastrointestinal tract, impact may be
greater on sensitive populations such as
the carriers of the gene for Wilson
disease and other metabolic disorders.

Used to make pipes, valves and fittings.


Copper sulphate pentahydrate is
sometimes added to surface water to
control algae. Primary source in drinking
water is the corrosion of copper plumbing.
Food and water are the primary sources
of copper exposure in developed
countries.

Cyanide

Long-term consumption effects the thyroid


and the nervous system.

Can be found in some foods, particularly


in some developing countries, and
occasionally found in drinking water from
industrial contamination.

Fluoride

Low concentrations (0.5 1.0 mg/L)


provide protection against dental caries,
especially in children. Higher levels can
cause mottling of teeth and dental
fluorosis. Much higher levels can result in
skeletal damage.

Naturally occurring; used widely in


industry; used to produce phosphate
fertilizers. In most circumstances food is
the main source of intake. Some areas
have relatively high concentrations of
fluoride in groundwater.

Iron

Essential element for human nutrition. No


health based guideline is proposed.

Naturally occurring; one of most abundant


metals. Also found in drinking water from
corrosion of steel and cast iron pipes.

Lead

Infants, children and pregnant women are


most susceptible. Infants and children:
Delays in physical or mental
development; deficits in attention span
and learning abilities. Adults: Kidney
problems; high blood pressure.

Used in the production of lead-acid


batteries solders and alloys. Lead in
drinking water is usually from household
plumbing systems that use lead in pipes,
solders and fittings.

Manganese

Essential element for human nutrition.


Adverse effects can result from both
deficiency and overexposure.

Naturally occurring; one of most abundant


metals, usually found with iron. Used in
manufacturing and in cleaning, bleaching
and disinfection products. Food is the
main source of exposure.

Mercury

Causes neurological symptoms and


kidney damage.

Used in the mining industry, production of


chlorine, electrical appliances, and in
dental amalgams. Food is the main
source of exposure.

A9-3

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Chemical

Molybdenum

Nickel

Nitrate and
nitrite

Potential Health Effect from


Drinking Water
Essential element for human nutrition.
High doses may cause liver dysfunction
and joint pain in the knees, hands and
feet.

Higher chances of lung cancer, nose


cancer, birth defects, allergic reactions,
heart disorders.

Main health concern is


methaemoglobinaemia, or blue baby
syndrome, that occurs in infants that are
usually bottle fed. Symptoms include
shortness of breath and their skin turning
blue due to the lack of oxygen.

Appendix 9 WHO Guidelines

Source
Naturally occurring; relatively rare
element. Used in manufacturing of special
steels, used as lubricant additives and in
agriculture to prevent molybdenum
deficiency of crops. May be found in high
concentrations near mining sites.
Naturally occurring; used in the
production of stainless steel and nickel
alloys. Food is the main source of
exposure. However, nickel in water can
be significant in areas where there is
heavy industrial pollution or relatively high
concentrations in groundwater.
Naturally occurring as part of the nitrogen
cycle. Nitrate is used in fertilizers and
sodium nitrite is used as a food
preservative. Concentration of nitrate in
groundwater and surface water is caused
by agricultural runoff; leaching from septic
tanks, and sewage. Nitrite is from
microbial activity and may be intermittent.

Potassium

Essential element for human nutrition. No


health based guideline is proposed.
Increased exposure could result in health
effects in people with kidney disease or
who are taking medication that interferes
with normal potassium functions in the
body.

Naturally occurring; not commonly found


in drinking water at levels that are a
concern to human health. However,
drinking water treated by water softeners
using potassium chloride may significantly
increase exposure and result in adverse
health effects in susceptible individuals.

Silver

No health based guideline is proposed.


Only a small percentage of silver is
absorbed by the body.

Naturally occurring; occasionally found in


groundwater, surface water and drinking
water. Silver salts are sometimes used by
HWT technologies to reduce bacteria (i.e.
ceramic filters).

Sodium

No health based guideline is proposed.

Sodium salts (e.g. sodium chloride) are


found in virtually all food and drinking
water. Food is the main source of
exposure. Water softeners can add
significantly to the sodium content in
drinking water.

Total
Dissolved
Solids (TDS)

Although there are no direct health


concerns, very low or high concentrations
may cause an objectionable taste.

TDS in drinking water comes from natural


sources, sewage, urban runoff and
industrial wastewater. Concentrations of
TDS in water vary greatly in different
geological regions.

A9-4

Drinking Water Quality Testing

Chemical

Potential Health Effect from


Drinking Water

Uranium

Little information is available on the


chronic health effects of exposure to
uranium in drinking water. Radiological
effects are not considered in the drinking
water guidelines.

Zinc

Zinc is an essential trace element for


human nutrition. No health based
guideline is proposed.

Appendix 9 WHO Guidelines

Source
Naturally occurring. Used mainly as a fuel
in nuclear power stations. Contamination
is caused by leaching from natural
deposits, release from mining operations,
emissions from the nuclear industry,
combustion of coal and other fuels, and
use of phosphate fertilizers that contain
uranium.
Found in virtually all food and drinking
water. Food is the main source of
exposure.
(Adapted from WHO, 2006)

A9-5